Eased restrictions still leave some business sectors in limbo

A couch that is in the process of being refurbished can be seen on the road side in Salvokop accros a furniture workshop, 26 November, Salvokop, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

For instance, the furniture manufacturing sector ‘was among the hardest hit as it consisted of a big number of small enterprises’.

The gradual easing of Covid-19 lockdown regulations to allow some economic activity have seemingly sparked frustration instead of relief, with manufacturers and business people saying some regulations were at odds with reality.

Industry players are echoing former finance minister Trevor Manuel’s sentiments that efforts to address the economic challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic are unreasonable and many decisions failed the rationality test.

The South African Furniture Initiative (Safi) lamented that although furniture manufacturers have been allowed to operate at 30% of capacity under level 4 lockdown regulations, they would have no one and nowhere to sell their goods to as furniture retailers remained closed.

The organisation said although this created the impression the furniture manufacturing sector was being allowed to gradually return to normal economic activity, it did not consider this, which was also a concern for other manufacturing sectors.

“Only at Level 2 restrictions will the industry be able to return to work and earn income,” Bernadette Isaacs, Safi managing director, said.

Safi has approached government with a request to speed up the reopening of the furniture sector, including limited retailers.

Isaacs noted the furniture manufacturing sector was among the hardest hit as it consisted of a big number of small enterprises.

Pretoria businessman Abel Molefe said it appeared government took and implemented decisions without adequate consideration.

For instance, he said fast-food outlets have been allowed to deliver, but they were not equipped to handle so many deliveries, so there were long delays and customers turned back orders.

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