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Car guards & waiters among many citizens worried about life during lockdown

The lockdown is aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 700 people in South Africa.

Picture: pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - As the country prepares to go into lockdown at midnight, many South Africans are trying to work out how they'll feed their families with the "no work, no pay rule" applying in some sectors.

The lockdown is aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 700 people in South Africa.

However, with very limited movement allowed over the 21-day confinement period, thousands of workers who rely on tips, commissions and public generosity will be among the hardest hit.

WATCH: SA businesses owned by women, youth and people with disabilities to be prioritised - Ntshaveni

At a usually busy shopping centre in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, the mood has drastically changed since the president's announcement of a 21-day lockdown.

Grocery shops are flooded with customers but small businesses there are already battling to make profit before the strict measures kick in.

A Hillbrow man who works as a waiter at a popular breakfast restaurant said he didn’t know how he would be able to feed his children at home for the next three weeks.

“We didn’t have much time to budget.”

A hair salon owner said her employees relied heavily on commission and tips: “We’ve managed to pay salaries, we’ve managed to pay some of the things. We can’t have them all this month.”

WATCH: SA on lockdown: Here’s what you need to know

Small businesses, street vendors and car guards are also among many who are concerned about how they would be able to meet their financial obligations.

With less than 24 hours before all businesses not rendering essential services have to shut their doors until the 16th of next month, Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises have urged landlords to be lenient with the collection of rent.

A salon owner in Douglasdale said her business took a nosedive since the first confirmed South African coronavirus case earlier this month.

She’s concerned about how she would be able to pay salaries: “Our business has lost about 70%. It’s been a concern for staff.”

At a popular franchise restaurant in northern Joburg, waiters are wearing face masks desperate to protect themselves, hoping to make enough money before the shop has to close for the three-week lockdown on Friday.

One waiter said this would have far-reaching implications on his personal life.

“This lockdown is going to affect a lot of us, especially those who are working in restaurants. We rely on tips.”

As many South Africans gear up for what will be the last day of freedom of movement before being confined to their homes for three weeks, cashiers at retail shops are working long hours trying to meet the increased demand.

And while many South Africans agree drastic times call for drastic measures, there's deep uncertainty about the economic impact the lockdown will have on small businesses and households that were already battling before COVID-19.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.

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