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COVID-19 economic cluster clarifies amendments to regulations

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola was the first to clarify a regulatory error that basically stated people travelling between towns can book into hotels and B&B’s during the lockdown.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – Ministers in the economic cluster have on Friday further clarified how the COVID-19 lockdown will affect businesses in various sectors.

This follows Thursday’s briefing by the national coronavirus command council, which gave feedback after the government published amended regulations to the state of disaster.

These included easing trading regulations for hawkers and those in the tourism sector.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola was the first to clarify a regulatory error that stated people travelling between towns can book into hotels and B&Bs during the lockdown.

That’s not the case anymore, according to the minister.

Lamola said police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had been empowered to conclude cases that they c ould to relieve the courts during the lockdown.

Lamola said, where people had to be taken into custody, all precautions were taken including sanitising facilities, but the Criminal Procedure Act allows police and prosecutors to use their discretion with some cases.

While lockdown regulations have limited working hours and the types of cases going to the courts, the South African Police Service and metro police have been arresting countless citizens who don’t comply.

The minister said: “We have also encouraged the police to use the Criminal Procedure Act, including the prosecuting authority, to use the section of the Act that allows them to deal with matters where they can as police officials – that may not need for the matter to arrive at the court.”

SMMES REGISTER FOR ASSISTANCE

Small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni also gave an update, saying tens of thousands of small businesses had registered with her department since Friday morning.

Small and medium enterprises can be broadly defined as a survivalist enterprise where the income generated is less than the minimum income standard or the poverty line.

This category includes hawkers, vendors and subsistence farmers.

A micro-enterprise on the other hand usually lacks formality in terms of registration and includes spaza shops and minibus taxis.

But Ntshavheni said not every small business could be regarded as an informal business and urged people to stay at home if they weren’t considered essential.

“The informal traders are not everybody. We understand that people are roaming the streets today. As the president has announced, we are working on a package to relieve the informal traders of the burden of not earning an income.”

The minister has reminded small businesses that registering does not guarantee financial assistance.

“The registration is to assist us as the government to ascertain that the business claiming to be an SMME, is indeed an SMME.”

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