Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel says that no prepared hot food may be sold by retailers during the lockdown, and any and all sections doing so in stores need to be shut down.
Patel clarified this point during a briefing on Thursday, saying that this aspect of the country’s lockdown regulations had always been ‘very clear’.
“Take-aways and restaurants were closed during the initial announcement of the lockdown. We communicated to retailers that in fact this requires that all hot food sections in retail stores should also be closed,” the minister said.
He added that things may change as the laws are constantly reviewed, but as things stand, no hot foods may sold.
You can view Patel’s part of the briefing in the video below (1:07:49).
The clarification from Patel comes after several prepared-food services lost their essential services certificates this week.
The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) which administers the certification of essential services during the lockdown said that cooked foods and deliveries of such do not qualify under the current regulations.
While the CIPC says it doesn’t make decisions about what products/services are essential, or provide advice on such, it has controversially stated that the sale of all “prepared food” is not allowed during the lockdown period.
In a now-deleted tweet, the CIPC said that this included frozen foods, where food had been cooked and then frozen (not frozen meat or vegetables). However, legal experts have noted that the regulations themselves make no reference to this.
The CIPC soon followed with a statement stating that: “CIPC (BizPortal) cannot provide advice on essential services. We administer the website for applications only. A company needs to determine themselves based on the regulations if they are essential or not. We also don’t make decisions about what products/services are essential.”
The original tweet saying frozen foods were not allowed was deleted.
The Presidency has also clarified that it would not be altering its position on the sale of alcohol, either.
In a statement on Friday evening, the office of the presidency declined the request of the Gauteng Liquor Forum for its members to sell alcohol during the declared national state of disaster.
“The President has carefully considered the representations made by the Gauteng Liquor Forum. These however have had to be weighed up against the imperative of all South African businesses and citizens to comply with the lockdown regulations, the health implications of consumption of alcohol and the priority to ensure social distancing during this principle.
“As such, alcohol is not considered an essential good or item. It is in fact considered a hindrance to the fight against the coronavirus,” it said.
The President furthermore considered representations from other stakeholders who have pointed to the causal relationship between alcohol intoxication and abuse, and risky behaviour.
“There are proven links between the sale and consumption of alcohol and violent crime, motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies at a time when all private and public resources should be preparing to receive and treat vast number of Covid-19 patients.
“The President has further noted that the Gauteng Liquor Forum’s position is not shared by all industry stakeholders; and that a number of other organisations in the liquor industry have rejected the call for the restrictions to be lifted.”
In response to concerns raised by the Gauteng Liquor Forum that small business in the liquor trade may suffer financial loss during this period, The Presidency drew the Forum’s attention to the assistance provided by the Tourism Relief Fund, the Department of Small Business Development, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and private endeavours such as the South African Future Trust amongst others.
“These funds and institutions provide capped grant assistance to small, micro and medium enterprises, to ensure sustainability during this period, as well as support to employees of these enterprises,” it said.