The recent outbreak of the COVID-19 or the coronavirus has severely impacted lives all over the globe. South Africa has currently imposed a nationwide lockdown that is being carried out from 26th of March to the 30th of April. This COVID-19 lockdown could mean that several businesses will not operate as per normal, as they would have to make adjustments to keep the company running from their homes.
What is coronavirus?
The coronavirus or COVID-19 is a type of virus that affects a person’s lungs and immune system severely. It is highly contagious, which has made the number of positive cases rampant all over the world. The WHO declared the COVID-19 to be a pandemic, which means that the virus has crossed international boundaries and is not just witnessed in certain regions. The coronavirus is especially harmful for the elderly population, as well as immuno-compromised people.
Currently, there are no vaccines or any known cures for the disease. For this reason, the best way to limit the spread of the disease is to practise social distancing, which has to be abided by the community as a whole. Several governments around the world have imposed a lockdown to control the virus and to diminish the number of positive cases arising from this disease. South Africa has also taken up this measure for the next few weeks.
What lockdown means for local businesses?
As part of the lockdown, people are discouraged from venturing out of their homes or gathering in public spaces. This means that several businesses will face significant losses during this period of time. Local businesses usually profit from the engagement provided by the local community, and with the restrictions that come with the COVID-19 lockdown, these businesses will not be able to sustain themselves for very long. Unlike large corporations, local businesses thrive on the prospects offered by the local community, and lockdown will impact them to a large extent.
The implications of lockdown on businesses in logistics
The main function of a logistics company is to control the movement and storage of information, goods and other services. This movement happens through a supply chain, and the job of logistics is to ensure smooth operation from the point of origin all the way to consumption. Considering the same, logistics involve a lot of movement to different locations, which predictably requires transportation.
The nature of the COVID-19 lockdown is to minimize movement to a great extent, and several company heads have made the decision to completely operate from within the confines of their homes while delegating operations online.
Amidst these changes, logistics companies have taken a severe hit. A lockdown means that all factories, warehouses and modes of transport have been forced to shut down. Managing tasks on the ground has become more difficult than ever, and for a lot of companies, such an impact is a completely uncharted territory.
In addition to this, the moral confidence of people in charge of delivery has come down by a great extent. These people are just as worried as the next person about their personal well-being in this stressful time.
How is the situation in South Africa?
There is much discussion around the impact of COVID-19 on logistics businesses in South Africa. The country’s Minister of Transport has issued a number of directions that follow the protocol as laid out by the Disaster Management Act Regulations.
First and foremost, there is a complete prohibition on the movement of cargo – aviation, road and maritime movement included. This limitation will also include a restriction of crew change, as well as the movement of essential cargo across all modes of transportation. The government has allowed for the operation of only essential items, and the movement for the same is limited to specific times of the day. There is also a strict prohibition on the movement of cross-border road transport, which undoubtedly is commonly seen with logistics.
The COVID-19 lockdown has certainly disrupted supply chains, including production, packaging and transportation activities. Businesses have slowed down considerably, and although this would certainly reveal major losses in the long run, companies are currently focused on getting back on their feet.
The disruption of supply chains can prove to have severe negative impacts, and the government will have to find more measures to enable these businesses to operate in a controlled manner over the course of the next few weeks.
The long-lasting effects of the virus certainly cannot be predicted accurately; making it important to sustain activities and find new means to help businesses get back to normal. Undoubtedly, this has to be done in a way that does not compromise the health of any individual or the community as a whole.
In the coming weeks, it is predicted that the government will issue new directives and guidelines that would help the general public better cope with the lockdown and its negative impacts.