The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) moved rapidly last week to join the fight against COVID-19, by publishing Block Exemption Regulations for the Healthcare sector, in the Government Gazette on 19 March 2020. This comes only days after the National State of Disaster was declared on 15 March 2020.
More detail about the ambit of the Block Exemption becomes clear when one notes that it is an exemption from only certain sections of the Competition Act (sections 4 and 5). In plain terms this means that several players in the healthcare sector – including hospitals, pharmacies, medical aid funds, laboratories, pathologists, etc. – will not be in contravention of the Competition Act if they have to coordinate an emergency response to the imminent threat of COVID-19.