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COVID-19: Approval required by businesses that will provide essential services in South Africa

26 March 2020
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The Minister of Trade and Industry announced yesterday that all businesses that will provide essential services under the Regulations promulgated under the Disaster Management Act (the Regulations) are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown in terms of the Regulations. According to the statement, such businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at and obtain a certificate from the Commission that allows them to continue trading.

Although this statement was couched in mandatory language, our understanding is that the office of the Ministry has indicated today that there is no obligation to make this registration but that it is intended as a means to give comfort to businesses where there is concern that they may be restricted from movement by the police.  It remains to be seen if the formal communication of the Minister is amended.  Meanwhile, only businesses that provide essential services (as defined in the Regulations) may operate, and they must do so in compliance with the requirement that essential staff members are duly designated and authorised in writing by the CEO or his/ her delegate, using Form 1 in annexure C to the Regulations.

False applications to the CIPC Bizportal will be taken as a fraudulent application and will render the applicant liable to criminal prosecution and sanction.