Sale of cigarettes, alcohol, and fast food during lockdown to be considered – Report

The Sunday Times reported that the national command council, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, will discuss industry proposals to ease some of the lockdown restrictions.

The report stated these proposals include lobbies from the tobacco and alcohol sectors, and a call to allow fast-food outlets to reopen.

The government is also reportedly working on an emergency plan to kick-start South Africa’s economy after the lockdown to avert a jobs bloodbath.

“A raft of proposals that include a comprehensive financial package geared at scaling up the production of essential goods will be tabled,” the Sunday Times said.

This news comes shortly after Police Minister Bheki Cele vowed to crack down on illegal alcohol sales and criminals who loot liquor stores.

He added that they will arrest people who illegally sell alcohol, destroy the confiscated alcohol, and also destroy the infrastructure used to facilitate this crime.

Call for online shopping to be allowed

Additionally, South African logistics and ecommerce businesses have asked Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel to allow the transport and delivery of goods with no human contact.

These businesses argue that allowing all goods to be transported domestically by professional courier companies will allow many businesses to continue operating.

These sectors provide a valuable service to society while not adding undue risk to the further spread of COVID-19, they added.

“We hereby request that you seriously consider allowing approved courier companies adhering to stringent preventative measures to transport all goods domestically.”

“We can play a vital part in not only preventing the spread of the virus, but ensuring the well-being of South Africans – please allow us to do this.”

Prominent signatories on the request include uAfrica’s Andy Higgins, Bidorbuy’s Craig Lubbe, The Courier Guy’s Stephen Gleisner, and Courierit SA’s Marnie Dreyer Shaik.

Concern over the economy

The impact of the national lockdown has been devastating on the economy, with business closures and job losses expected.

Many companies have already announced salary cuts and short time, and many more are expected to follow in the coming weeks.

Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt told MyBroadband between 100,000 and 200,000 South African businesses could be shut down permanently due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Roodt explained the South African economy was already in dire straits before the virus came into play.

“We actually were in crisis and now we have a crisis on top of a crisis, and we were losing jobs in any event,” Roodt noted.

Given the information at hand, Roodt expects South Africa’s economy to contract significantly this year.

He estimated that 1 million jobs could be lost in South Africa in 2020, with the effects of the coronavirus outbreak taken into consideration.

Free Market Foundation CEO Leon Louw echoed these views.

“Our research suggests that the lockdown costs the country at least R10 billion daily, or R350 billion in five weeks,” he said.

Louw added that “the bizarre prohibition of tobacco and alcohol is reprehensible”.

“Normal people are now incentivised to resort to crime: trading in black markets, looting and burglary,” he said.

Now read: The cure should not be worse than the virus – SA businesses

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Sale of cigarettes, alcohol, and fast food during lockdown to be considered – Report