The coatings industry has made an urgent appeal to the government to allow home-improvement products to be classified as “essential products and services” during the Covid-19 lockdown so that South Africans could use their residential confinement to upgrade dwellings and increase property values.
Deryck Spence, executive director of the SA Paint Manufacturing Association (SAPMA), has advised the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, that the coatings industry in countries such as Australia – where the paint is still being produced in plants that strictly enforce factory social distancing – there had been a soaring demand for home renovation materials. “In fact, sales of these items are escalating so much that three times more paint was sold last week (the last week of March) than in the same week last year.”
His letter to the government added that the World Coatings Council had reported that the Australian coatings sector’s ability to make critical products needed to fight the pandemic, including safe manufacture of hand sanitiser, was also considered; while in the USA, Federal and State actions to close businesses had, for the most part, spared paint and coatings, which was deemed essential, generally. In Canada, also, following industry appeals to its government, the coatings sector is still functioning although two provinces had imposed some operational restrictions, currently, paint stores, by and large, were still open. In France, the paint industry had stepped up to provide hospitals and care centres with needed equipment such as protective clothing and respirators and offered – along with the cosmetics industry – to produce a continuous supply of hand sanitiser gel.
The appeal to governments to allow selective coatings industry operations had also been made in other overseas countries, including the UK and Turkey.
Spence told the Minister SAPMA feels that the opening of hardware retail stores would provide a “safe and controllable” platform while the sales of goods that will follow will build demand from the factories and their labour forces when full-scale manufacture is resumed. “Retailers can provide skeleton teams to man stores to provide essential products as well as lessening the prospects of a total collapse of the economy. We implore you to at least consider the Australian model and keep this important section of our economy breathing by introducing the necessary concessions,” SAPMA’s appeal adds.
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