Keeping safe and keeping staff is the response of Cape Town business – Cape Chamber survey safe and keeping staff is the response of Cape Town business Cape Chamber survey

More than a third of Cape Chamber members report serious negative impacts of the Corona Virus on their business, together with a universal determination to survive and save jobs

Protecting the health of their staff, the public and jobs is evident across all businesses surveyed.

This based on the results of a survey carried out last week of the more than 2 000 members of the oldest business organization in Africa.

The negative effects vary according to the type of business but as expected it is those in the tourism sector that have been hit the hardest, with those already buying and selling remotely using the Internet least affected.

Many businesses have already sent half of their staff to work from home. Others have reduced the number of people working face-to-face with customers.

There is a universal concern of proprietors and managers for the health of their staff and customers. None have failed to put in place the recommended measures to stop virus transmission on their premises. Some have even begun using glass screens and telephones to protect staff and customers.

The Chamber survey shows hygiene regimes introduced by almost all respondents. They are wiping all desks, door handles, chairs, computers, telephones and other equipment, with disinfectant in addition to normal cleaning operations.

Thorough handwashing for the required 20 seconds is being practiced and the need to do it frequently is being drummed home to all staff.

Cost cutting is also top-of-mind with the intention of keeping jobs not losing staff and skills. Some businesses have already begun amalgamating offices. Staff numbers stay the same as working from home increases.

Most of our members are anxious about being able to afford high rents and City Council rates as the economy shrinks. They are pleading for a rates holiday for the duration of the emergency and a sharing of pain by landlords, so that job losses can be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely.

What our survey highlights is the creative response and speed of business’s reaction to the crisis. The ingenuity that has emerged – from staggered work days and tea-breaks to taking staff home in shifts rather than allowing them to use taxis or buses – is extraordinary.

The common concern for others and the demonstration of common humanity is overwhelming, uplifting, and a tribute to the business community of our city.

Geoff Jacobs
President of the Cape Chamber