Living in a time of COVID-19. Build a new model
April 3, 2020

Living in a time of COVID-19. On being essential

By Peter Schmitt


On Thursday 26 March (the day before South Africa’s lockdown) when wrapping up a face-to-face client meeting, I was given a document titled:

“Permit to perform essential service – Regulation 11B (3)”

Biodx, a manufacturer of sustainable biocides –disinfectants and hand sanitisers and is considered an essential manufacturer during the lockdown period from 27 March to 16 April 2020.

What this means is that while carrying this form, I am legally unrestricted by the lockdown and allowed to leave home to perform an essential service to the people of South Africa.

Biodx is an incredible story of a couple of South African chemists who chose to go on a journey against the odds (and the global chemical industrial complex), to develop a natural biocide to reduce society’s dependence on synthetic chemicals. They’ve spent the last 15 years researching and developing cutting edge antimicrobial and antiviral disinfection and preservation technologies that work with nature, not against it. Their disinfectants as it turns out, are effective against the coronavirus – and now Biodx can authentically add “enabling a safer world during the global pandemic” to their brand promise.

It got me thinking about what it means to be essential. So I went to the oxford English dictionary to clarify:

essential | ɪˈsɛnʃ(ə)l | 


absolutely necessary; extremely important

– [attributive] fundamental or central to the nature of something or someone

– (essentials) the fundamental elements or characteristics of something

What I’ve realised, is that being essential is a huge responsibility.

It means that one has to be willing to go where nobody else is willing to go. In the face of danger, putting others above yourself…serving and sacrificing.

Having the Biodx ‘essential service’ document and its associated freedom is both liberating and a massive responsibility – a double edged sword. But thankfully together with the document, I was issued a set of PPE: masks, sanitisers and gloves. I know the work I’m doing for Biodx is for the common good. But I also know that if I care for the people around me, I have to be responsible with how I use it.

My belief is that being essential needs to become the new normal.

It will be the only way we can survive and flourish as humanity and society.

Imagine if everyone thought this way?

Imagine a world where all leaders and businesses stand for something more than money, act for a long term relevance to impact positively on society, yet are highly profitable.

Imagine a world where all businesses are considered essential and decent

Imagine a world where all brands have meaning and actively deliver on their promise, delighting not only their customers, but society too.

Imagine people trusting, engaging with, and being loyal to them.

Imagine these are your people.

Imagine this is your business. Imagine this is your brand.

Imagine this is our shared future.

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