Spare more than a thought for business
We welcome the government's newly introduced strict regulations that would see taverns, clubs and restaurants shut down or scaling down to less than 50 patrons at a time.
The regulations were gazetted by cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma yesterday under the national state of disaster. They are aimed at restraining the spread of coronavirus which had infected 150 people in the country by yesterday.
The order also stated that all off-consumption liquor stores must be shut between 6pm and 9am from Monday to Saturday and close by 1pm on Sundays and public holidays. Business owners who disregard the rules will face imprisonment or a fine or both
The regulations also called on all places of accommodation which sell liquor to also implement the measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Yes, the government has no other option but to regulate public spaces such as taverns and eateries because that will prevent more people from contracting the virus.
However, our hearts go out to the small business owners whose bottom lines would be impacted negatively by these measures.
Many tavern owners do not have insurance cover for losses incurred during a national disaster like big corporations do.
Their businesses are mostly set up to survive and feed their loved ones and many will go under during this difficult time for our country.
They have no choice but to close shop or serve fewer patrons; if they disobey the order in the interest of their livelihood they would be breaking the law and risking people's lives.
But how are they going to feed their families? How are these businesses expected to survive this period?
And, after the pandemic, are there plans from the government to assist them with funding to revive their businesses?
We hope the relevant department will look at a model that would provide financial assistance to help the business owners with capital as their failure will not affect only their families, but their employees as well, along with their relatives, and lead to negative effects on the economy and add to the burden of social services as more people will be unemployed.
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