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Cape businesses warned to be wary of new COVID-19 sanitising scam

The City of Cape Town is warning small businesses to be extra wary, as a new scam has emerged in which fraudsters are posing as COVID-19 ‘cleansing services’ and conning owners out of hundreds of rands at a time.

These scammers claim to be able to sanitise premises, which then ostensibly protects the business and clients from risk of COVID-19 exposure.

There have been reports of this service being offered to businesses in Mitchells Plain, Athlone, Bonteheuwel, and Pelican Park. Business owners are encouraged to come forward so that the City can determine the extent of this issue.

“It is really sad, but not unsurprising that unscrupulous individuals would go around, targeting small businesses in this manner. The lockdown earlier this year has already severely impacted on many businesses, and so to have them exploited in this manner on top of the hardships already experienced is downright criminal,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

“Business owners who are unsure of how to go about ensuring that their establishment presents a low risk of exposure to staff and clients are asked to contact their local Environmental Health Office for advice and guidance.

“However, as COVID-19 is spread through droplets on both surfaces and in the air, the best plan of action is to ensure regularly cleaning of all surfaces and to ensure that clients and staff wear masks at all times. In addition, maintaining social distancing is crucial, as well as hand sanitising for all persons entering the premises and ensuring sufficient ventilation and airflow.”

In terms of the World Health Organisation guidelines, high contact surfaces can be cleaned with regular house soap or detergent and disinfected with a mixture of 30ml of household bleach with 1 litre of water or disinfectant with at least 70% alcohol content, which must be sprayed or applied with a clean cloth and left to dry.

COVID-19 safety regulations still require that persons work remotely where possible. In the event that this is not possible, businesses are reminded to ensure that their staff members are screened regularly, wear their masks for the duration of their shift, and to stay home if they’re not feeling well.

Any person who has come into contact with a COVID-positive individual is required to quarantine for a period of fourteen days.

Where a positive case is identified in the workplace, business owners can contact the national Department of Labour for guidance on whether an external cleaning service is required, and what process to implement for staff safety protocols.

“I also want to appeal to the public to support their local businesses by ensuring that they do their bit in adhering to COVID-19 protocols when out shopping, particularly as we head into the home straight before Christmas,” added Councillor Badroodien.

“Our Environmental Health Practitioners report continued non-compliance in many areas of the city, particularly around social distancing and the wearing of masks. The masks are not chin straps; they fulfill a vital role in keeping you safe, as well as those around you. So our rallying call is that people act responsibly by masking up when in public, and report any acts of non-compliance that they come across.”

The City has launched a compliance hotline, which can be accessed by calling 021 444 3528.

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