Dear TMA-SA members.
What started out as a disease in a foreign country that had the potential to have far reaching effects in the business world has turned into one of the most significant crises of our time in terms of its potential economic impact.
For a long time, South Africa was largely unaffected when compared to the infection rate seen in other countries. This has changed significantly over the past 72 hours; we now have 61 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and President Cyril Ramaphosa has imposed some significant measures to deal with the crisis. This includes (but is not limited to):
- limiting contact between persons, infected or not;
- the imposition of a travel ban on foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the US, the UK and China from 18 March;
- Government has cancelled visas to visitors from those countries and previously granted visas are revoked;
- South African citizens are advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through the EU, US, UK and other identified high-risk countries such as China, Iran and South Korea. This is effective immediately;
government will continue to regularly issue travel alerts referring to specific cities, countries or regions as the situation evolves based on the risk level;
South Africa has 72 ports of entry in the country which are land, sea and airports. Of the 53 land ports, 35 will be shut down from 16 March. Two of the eight seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes;
all non-essential domestic travel is discouraged, particularly by air, rail, taxis and bus;
government has called on all businesses including mining, retail, banking, farming to ensure that they take all necessary measures to intensify hygiene control.
It is equally important to note is that school and other institutions of learning will be shut down from 18 March until after the Easter holidays.
All of this is significant because it will severely impact the running of businesses. Those that rely on import and export will face major challenges. Retail businesses will continue to operate as usual, but will they see the same volume of customers as they have seen before? As for the schools, while many South African households can afford childcare, many others can’t. This will impact home run businesses. Lets also hope that Eskom can keep the lights on during this period.
There has been no news from the President as to when the above travel bans will be lifted or the length of time that the restrictions on imports and exports will continue. This could mean that businesses will be in greater need of turnaround management practitioners as they adjust to the new normal. Once the status quo has returned, there is no guarantee that it will be business as usual (in terms of volume). There will be long periods of adjustment ahead. Your expert advice is needed during this period.