More than a third of Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry members have reported serious negative impact of the coronavirus on their businesses.
This follows a survey carried out by the Chamber last week across its more than 2000 members.
“The negative effects vary according to the type of business, “said Chamber president Geoff Jacobs. “As can be expected, the tourism sector has been hit the hardest, with those already buying and selling remotely using the internet least affected.”
Jacobs said many businesses had already sent half of their staff to work from home while others had 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 has failed to put in place the recommended measures to stop virus transmission on their premises,” Jacobs said. “Some have even begun using glass screens and telephones to protect staff and customers.”
The Chamber survey showed hygiene regimes introduced by almost all respondents. Wiping of all desks, door handles, chairs, computers, telephones and other equipment with disinfectant in addition to normal cleaning operations had been introduced.
Jacobs said the survey also revealed that cost cutting was top-of-mind, but with most businesses indicating that their priority was keeping jobs and not losing staff and skills. Some businesses, he said, had already begun amalgamating offices.
“Most of our members are anxious about being able to afford high rents and City Council rates as the economy shrinks, “said Jacobs. “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,” he said.
“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,” Jacobs concluded.