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The Essential Guide for SMME’s during lockdown provides critical information for business including where to find the regulations applicable to COVID-19 , a clear explanation of what constitute essential goods and services , how and where businesses can apply to operate as an essential service, as well as all information related to government funding available to SMME’s.

1. Where do I find all the Government regulations and guidelines applicable to COVID-19/ the lockdown

Please view guidelines here. 

2. What is an essential good or service business

Only enterprises which produce and/or provide, and/or distribute goods and services listed in the Disaster Management regulations are exempted from the restrictions contemplated in the regulation issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act. Please see the lockdown regulations for further information here  and here.

See if you qualify as an essential good or service business here.

3. How do I apply for permission for my business to operate as an essential goods or services business

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel announced that all businesses that will be allowed to provide essential services are required to seek approval from the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)  in order for them to trade during the period of the lockdown. Businesses are required to apply to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) Bizportal website at and obtain a certificate from the Commission that allows them to continue trading.

The application will be a simple declaration requiring minimal registration details, type of business/trade involved in, what trading name if any is used and whether it meets the requirements contained in the essential services list, the contact details of the person applying as well as the number of employees that will be working during the lockdown period. The CIPC registry will then pre-populate the remaining company information and email a certificate stating that the business is allowed to remain trading.

Please see this News24 article that provides a good guideline – learn more.

4. How do I give permission for my staff to travel to my business from their residence during this lockdown

Your business is required to use the absolute minimum staff necessary to operate safely. Each staff member must be provided with a permit as per annexure C in the regulations. The staff member must carry both this permit and identification with them at all times.

5. What are the requirements for my staff to perform deliveries

The delivery vehicle is not allowed to carry more than 50% of the carrying capacity of the vehicle and all directions in respect of hygienic conditions(social distancing) and limitations of exposure to persons with COVID-19 are adhered to.

6. Must all essential businesses register with the Department of Trade and Industry?

No, the registration portal is only for registered companies operating in South Africa. Healthcare professionals registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, sole proprietors who provide essential goods and services (like spaza shops), and small-scale farmers will not have to register through the Bizportal. Please see this press release here.

7. My business is not an essential business and has had to close during the lockdown. How do I apply for relief to pay my staff salaries during this period?

If you are registered with UIF and make monthly contributions as required by the Contributions Act of 2002 then you can apply for relief in terms of the National Disaster Benefit from the Department of Employment and Labour. You will find the Easy-Aid guide for employers here. 

8. My business has been negatively affected, directly or indirectly, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Can I apply for relief.

The guidelines for application are available here.

9. As an Essential Business I need funding to take advantage of supply opportunities resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic or shortage of goods in the local market

The guidelines for application are available here. 

The City of Cape Town through the Department of Enterprise and Investment is working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure we continue to provide support across economic sectors during this time . My job now is to use all levers at my disposal to work with our business partners , provisional and national government to assist businesses to get through the crisis we now face.

10. What other relief funding is available for my SMME business to pay my staff salaries during this period.

To enable SMMEs to significantly reduce their cash outgoings and continue operations during this time of crisis, while retaining their employees, eligible SMME employers can apply from 3 April 2020 to the South African Future Trust(SAFT) via their preferred partner bank. Please click here for further information on the SAFT.

11. What tax relief is available for businesses during COVID-19

National Government has provided the following tax relief:

  1. Expanded the  Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) programme (previously only applicable to employees between the ages of 18 to 29) for Companies for the period 1 April 2020 and ending on 31 July 2020  for businesses whom were registered with SARS by 1 March 2020 to increase the ETI contribution for employees between 18 to 29 and expanded the incentive to employees between 30 and 65 years of age.
  2. For Tax compliant Small and Medium Businesses (annual turnover less than R50m per annum) deferral of payment of employees tax liability (20% of PAYE) for the period 1 April 2020 and ending on 31 July 2020
  3. For Tax compliant Small and Medium Businesses (annual turnover less than R50m per annum) deferral of provisional tax liability for the period 1 April 2020 and ending on 31 July 2020

For further information please see the explanatory notes here. 

12. What other relief funding is there for SMMe’s in the tourism and hospitality sector to ensure sustainability?

The Tourism Relief Funding is providing capped grant funding of R50 000. To apply SMMEs can submit funding applications by filling a form accessible online at, or by email to

13. What payment relief is available from the City of Cape Town?

The City of Cape Town has also introduced a rates payment relief mechanisms for residents and businesses. For more information, please click here.

In addition to the above financial relief mechanism, the City of Cape Town is offering guest houses and B&Bs an option of applying to change their property classification if they need to as a result of the COVID-19 impact which in some cases could cut rates bills in half. For more information, please click here. 

PLEASE NOTE : These guidelines attempt to provide a level of clarity and are not meant to be a definitive legal document, but rather a guide.

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