The Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group on Friday, 20 March 2020 issued a statement in light of its position with regards to COVID-19, supporting the Head of State, Dr. Hage Geingob’s declaration of a State of Emergency.
O&L Group CEO, Wessie van der Westhuizen: “In recognition of the stance that Government has taken in this regard, and as a caring corporate citizen - cognizant of the major impact this virus has on both employees and business alike - the health and safety of our employees, customers and stakeholders are paramount. While we understand that the outbreak of COVID-19 has brought a great deal of uncertainty and fear amongst people, it is equally important that we remain calm.”
The O&L Group together with its subsidiaries have put in place various preventative measures to ensure the safety of its employees, customers and consumers. Van der Westhuizen: “We are working around the clock to ensure that we have measures in place to support the health and safety of everyone. These include: our Group Wellness support; subsidiary specific Business Continuity Plans that have been developed specifically to ensure that the business can respond sufficiently to any disruptions; the ongoing flu vaccination campaign; continuous education and awareness through various communication initiatives; communication and travel guidelines; hand sanitizing stations at prominent areas at operating company workplaces for staff and consumers/stakeholders; as well as the formation of a O&L Group COVID-19 Response Team, amongst others.” The O&L Group and subsidiaries have also either postponed or cancelled all scheduled large meetings and events in response to the Head of State’s ban on large gatherings for at least 30 days. These events include the Independence Celebration concert sponsored by Tafel Lager, the annual Wernhil Park ‘Made in Namibia’ exhibition and the annual Windhoek Karneval (WIKA), amongst others.
O&L further commend and appreciate Government’s efforts to address the crisis by strengthening Namibia’s preparedness and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Van der Westhuizen: “As you can imagine, this has serious repercussions and significant impact on our local economy and the Namibian people. O&L is by no means immune to the impact of this crisis. For example, ever since the announcement of the COVID-19 outbreak and the imposed travel ban to and from restricted countries like Germany (our biggest tourist market), our tourism industry has felt and continues to feel the punch. Needless to say, our sister company, O&L Leisure is tremendously threatened as future bookings are decreasing rapidly and cancellations are increasing due to the temporary border closures for leisure travel - all of which are threatening revenue. Equally so, the retail sector, and in our case, Pick n Pay, is also faced with extreme challenges as we are a country dependent on imports.”
Despite the challenges Namibia and the rest of the world are facing during this time, van der Westhuizen expressed his optimism that all is not in vain. Van der Westhuizen: “Perspective is the balance in the storm. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we stand together as a nation. Our greatest weapon is to prioritize our personal hygiene and health so that we are all strong enough to conquer this in order to look after ourselves and each other, the community, business and the local economy. Let us be resilient in exploring breakthrough thinking and identifying opportunities that would result in creating new realities for us all.”