It’s not too late to register as an essential service provider

Companies that had not managed to register as essential service providers by midnight on Thursday, when the Covid-19 lockdown period came into effect, can still do so.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel announced on Wednesday that businesses that provide essential services would be able to use the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission’s BizPortal site to register. They will be issued with certificates that form part of the documents required by employees who need to travel to and from work during the lockdown period.

Read: Ramaphosa announces 21-day national shutdown from Thursday

The portal launched on Thursday, and the department said that by 14:00 only 10 000 companies – mainly in the food, health and medical and transport services sectors – had registered.

“We ask that companies be patient through the registration process as there are large volumes presently being experienced,” the department said in a statement in which it announced that the portal was now fully functional. 

“No companies will be prejudiced by any delay in the system,” it added.

“The service will continue to run [on Friday] and beyond, and it is not a requirement that companies complete registration before the lockdown begins.”

Essential services only

The department however warned that only firms that have been defined as essential services in the regulations published by Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will be allowed to operate. 

The essential services category includes medical and health services, disaster management and firefighting, grocery stores, spaza shops, banks, and care services for the disabled and elderly.

“Already we have seen companies selling on-premise consumption of alcohol registering through the platform,” the department said. “Other examples include non-essential grooming for pets.”

Patel previously stated that businesses that make false applications claiming to be essential services will be registered as “fraudulent applications” and will be liable for criminal prosecution and sanction. 

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