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Coronavirus in SA: Sale of cigarettes prohibited during 21-day lockdown

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Not only will there be no sales of alcohol allowed during the 21-day lockdown, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel revealed that cigarette sales will also be prohibited.

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During Wednesday evening’s three-hour justice clusters briefing on the newly-amended State of Disaster regulations, which were signed by Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Patel said that stores which sell other things beside food would also be limited to only selling basic goods.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the previous regulations confined the sale of alcohol at bars, nightclubs, restaurants, liquor stores and taverns to between 9am and 6pm during weekdays and Saturdays, and to 9am and 1pm on Sundays, but under the lockdown, there would be no sale of alcohol allowed. 

Cele urged South Africans to stay sober during the 21-day lockdown and said the transportation of alcohol was prohibited during the lockdown.

Earlier in the briefing Patel said that the regulations have been developed based on a heath assessment as which have been indicated by Minister Dlamini-Zuma. The regulations were also developed to enable the police to enforce them. 

“We call on the business community, large businesses, small businesses, informal traders to work with us to contain the spread of the virus so that we can win this war,” Patel said.

“We are working with businesses to keep the supply chain running, to keep key production and retail flowing in the food sector, in cleaning and hygiene products, in medical goods and equipment, in fuel, and in basic goods like airtime and electricity.”

Patel said traders that sell a wide range of goods would be limited “only to sell the essential good that are set out in the regulations”. 

“…We have to contain the spread of the virus, we have an enormous population of immunocompromised persons. If this virus spreads widely, it can cause very very serious damage. So we will implement, and learn from implementing and we can amend the regulations as we go on. 

“If there are gaps that we have discovered, we can bring out a new regulation,” Patel said.

“We have a 21-day lockdown, it’s not a year, it’s not two years. It’s a 21-day lockdown to try to see if we can contain this.

“On the items that people can buy, obviously we wanted to keep the list as short and simple as possible so that we can do a quick turn around at shops so that people spend the minimum amount of time there, and travel as infrequently to the shops as possible. Cigarettes is not a basic good.”

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