If you were hoping against hope that your favourite pizza delivery place or beer house might fall under government’s definition of an essential service, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission would beg to differ.
The department on Tuesday said that companies that do not fall under the category of essential services had been attempting to apply on the state’s website to continue operating during the lockdown. Their conduct was “either fraudulent or negligent”.
Only pharmacies, grocery stores, and funeral services, among some others categories of businesses, can continue to trade during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
The department said that businesses eligible to continue operations during the lockdown had their certificates cancelled. The police would be notified for investigation and possible prosecution.
Last week Friday, Minister of Trade, Industry and Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, said some 50 000 businesses applied as essential services.
The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission found pubs, taverns, restaurants, fast food places, pizza parlours and others had registered to continue operating, in violation of the regulations.
“These businesses are not eligible to continue operating during the lockdown period in terms of the regulations and directions issued by Government,” the department said.
It added it was a criminal offence for a business to continue operating during the lockdown if it was not providing an essential service, as defined in the regulations.
“It is also a criminal offence for any business which misrepresents the nature of its operations in order to obtain a CIPC certificate,” the statement said.