COVID-19: A Curveball on the Eve of Lockdown (ESSENTIAL SERVICES)

I had thought it would be a few days before another update was necessary, and it actually feels like about a week. But in reality it was only yesterday.  This shows the pace and which things are moving and, for those of us whose businesses remain open, the sheer magnitude of the challenges we are facing.  Planning of a “default diary” with clear allocated space for balanced priorities is a long distant memory!  Hopefully once we enter lock-down the pace of change will settle.

In yesterday’s email, I put forward the suggestion of a collaborative approach, working in partnership to resolving issues as they arise.  This was put to the test today due to a late night media release requiring business supplying essential services and products to register on a portal.  This left businesses with less than a day to comply.   Most businesses had prepared certificates in terms of the gazetted requirements.  The idea of the portal is that businesses will register their details and a certificate will be emailed for each employee who is required to get to work.  Great in theory, but extremely difficult in practice.  The intense timeframe put extreme pressure on the website, meaning that only had intermittent access.   Add having to find an “enterprise number” that was not at first obvious (see point 4 of Warrick de Wet’s note – this was like solving some sort of puzzle!).  Extraordinary levels of collaboration between our clients, service providers and the staff team were required to work out the issues. All the issues raised were administrative in nature, and actually very simple, but it required a collective approach to get the information required.  Thank you to all who participated.

Here are a few resources related to the new essential service application online application process:

1.       The application needs to be loaded at the CIPC Bizportal Website –

2.       Warrick de Wet, an attorney client and service provider has kindly provided a guide regarding the “essential services” requirements.  This provides a concise overview of the regulations, as well as guidelines on the lodgement process for those who have yet to complete an application.  Warrick has also included links to the regulations and the announcement regarding the portal.  Profound and sincere thanks to Warrick for agreeing to make this available to all of us.

Although many essential service provider companies have already submitted an application, there are some who have not yet managed to get access.  More importantly there are companies that may have prepared manual certificates and that are under the mistaken impression that they are compliant As before with the Coronavirus crisis, much changes in 24 hours.  If you are an essential service provided or producer and have not yet lodged an online application, I urge you to visit the website urgently and to lodge the necessary information.

Thank you again to Warrick for providing us with much needed information.  And thank you to our clients, staff and service providers for working via  flurry of messages and calls to work out how to resolve the situation.  This illustrated profoundly that in a time of such rapid change, this collaborative approach significantly improved the response time due to the shared application of information. 

Many of us have already entered the lockdown conditions over the last week and have developed a “muscle memory” for this new way of living.  For others it will be a brand new experience tomorrow.  There are some serious challenges as to how we will get much needed exercise.  One staff member has built an obstacle course around the garden, others have rushed out to buy treadmills (I think I prefer the outdoor option!!).  There will most definitely be challenges and hardships, and in this we need to be intentional in finding positives.

In our staff meeting today someone commented we should “welcome the opportunity to get bored”.  And there is a profound truth there.  In the modern world we are entirely dictated to by our schedules, constant meetings, emails, whatsapps, and general frantic pace of activity. Any absence of this activity is perceived to be boredom.  In this context, this solitude is perhaps a time for introspection and to set a different rhythm for our lives, at least for a short time.  Failing that, another suggestion in our staff meeting today was “learn a new language!”.  I must admit to having wondered where or when one might be able to use that language!

Best wishes

Peter Cottrell


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