After reading 70 000 submissions in 48 hours at a rate of 24 submissions per minute by teams working non-stop around the clock – according to COGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – the Covid-19 National Command Council had some good and some bad and plenty of confusing news for the industry. Several ministers last night briefed the media on the final regulations [Disaster Management Act Regulations Level 4 ]for life under the next level of Covid-19 lockdown.

After the President announced that we will be moving to Level 4 on the 5-level Risk-Assessment schedule from May 1, the public were invited to submit comments by noon April 27thon the draft document [Read more]. See our article with information here.

A task team then read and considered all of the thousands of submissions – according to the minister – and then met to decide which changes to make in the final Level 4 Regulations, (Disaster Management Act Regulations Level 4).

cycling-open
Cycling, jogging and walking are allowed between 6-9 am within 5km of home.

After reading – and presumably discussing – the 22 000 submissions about exercise, they decided that whole neighbourhoods walking, jogging and cycling together in the dark between 6 to 9 am in a 5km radius from home, is the best way to promote community health … as long as nobody organises this.

Submissions by industry members – including Sports Trader – to allow the of sale of goods like home exercise equipment and proper running and walking shoes and cycling accessories, were unfortunately ignored. As was submissions from retailers referring to best practices in overseas countries, e.g. staggered exercise times based on ID digits and the opening of stores with fewer than 10 employees. Or even allowing online or call and collect sales.

Or maybe these submissions got lost amidst the attention paid to the 2 000 submissions about the abuse of cigarette and tobacco (like sharing and licking zols) that resulted in the withdrawal of the permission to sell cigarettes, announced by the President last week.

We made further submissions to the relevant ministers and are awaiting responses.

Please note that as far as retail and wholesale are concerned, permission to sell specific product categories are granted under the different levels. Retailers are not given permission to open and sell all the goods in their stores. You can register here for a certificate to sell those categories that are now permitted (see more below).

But, before resuming trading, you must prepare the workplace: please see General measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 on p9 of the regulations to be found here [Disaster Management Act Regulations Level 4]. These include providing staff with cloth masks, determining the permissable floor space per customer and employee (1.5m distance between each) and the provision of hand sanitisers at the entrance to the premises, among others.

On p22 it is further specified that “every person in control of a retail store or institution must:

(a) take steps to ensure that customers keep a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other, and that all directions in respect of health protocols and social distancing measures COVID -19, are adhered to; and

(b) designate a compliance official to ensure that the safety controls are strictly adhered to, and display the name of the official prominently in the store or in a visible area.

 

Blundstone-boot
Photo courtesy of Blundstone.

 Following the submissions, winter footwear and certain toiletries have been added to the products that may be sold in retail on Level 4. According to the regulations the following industry-related items are allowed to be supplied by retailers and wholesalers (see from p25 in the document):

  • PPE equipment like face masks in abundance – as every person venturing outside their homes from May 1 will have to wear a cloth mask. Also, the supply of textiles required to produce face masks, and other personal protective equipment, are permitted. (Read more)
  • Hand sanitisers, disinfectants and soaps (take note of the sanitizing businesses must undertake before opening).
  • Winter clothing and bedding, with footwear added. Plus components for manufacture.
  • Children’s clothing and fabrics and components for manufacture.
  • Fuel and lighting, including coal, wood, paraffin and gas.
Skechers-winter-clothing
Winter clothing may also be sold under Level 4.

The scaled introduction of manufacturing remains the same as in the draft document (Read more), but the supply of all protective clothing and footwear and PPE measures for workers is allowed, DTI minister Patel said.

Fishing and hunting are among the agricultural industries that have been opened. The question about whether consumables used for fishing and hunting like hooks, lines, bait, bullets, etc. will be allowed to be sold, has still not been answered (also see this submission). It is clearly not only commercial fishing that will be allowed, as Minister Thoko Didiza did say that people would be able to participate in the sardine run under controlled conditions.

Wildebees-hunting
According to the new regulations all hunting and fishing is allowed, but questions remain. Photo: Wildebeest.

“We have also ensured that areas such as shops that sell agricultural chemicals, seeds as well as fertilizers (i.e. co-ops like Agrimark – ed) should also be open so that farmers can be able to get seeds and manures and other related input for them to operate,” she announced.

Companies opening are also advised to develop a Workplace Plan before opening (see here) [add link to image]. Small businesses could keep the plan quite basic, which they must also share with employees, while medium and larger businesses should have a more detailed plan, which should include the phased return to work for employees.