Coronavirus: Essential services during the lockdown

Coronavirus: Essential services during the lockdown

One of the main conversations which this extraordinary lockdown situation has led to is: what is an essential service?

Groceries/ iStock

The government has issued regulations under the Disaster Act which lists them, but some are vague - such as production of food. So the restaurants were forced to shut down, totally - no home deliveries, not takeaways allowed.

But you can order a ready-made meal from Woolies or Pick n Pay. 

Woolies told me this week: “According to the “Lockdown” regulations “any food product” is regarded as “essential goods”. Consequently, we continue to sell all food products in our stores, and online.

And many companies around the country, Durban included, are continuing to make and deliver ready-to-eat meals, mostly frozen, to homes.

What’s wrong with that - it stops people from going to the supermarket…

Yes, maybe, although they need more than prepared meals to keep the household going, and good luck getting a delivery slot from PnP or Woolies for home deliveries during lockdown - you won’t.

BUT what about the people who cook, package, and deliver those handy meals to you? They mostly come in on public transport and then have to associate with co-workers to do it.

They would have obtained “permits” to operate as an essential service from the government’s CIPC website - Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, but that’s an automated process. The DTi is now manually going through them and I know of one Durban operation which this week got an email saying that authority is now revoked.

Other companies - such as call centers doing marketing calls for cellphone companies here and overseas - tried to keep operating as an essential services, but at least one has been forced to shut down.

READ: What if your Valentine's Day flowers are delivered late?

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