• "High level" discussions are underway to allow cigarettes to be sold during the lockdown, according to a well-placed source. 
  • It remains illegal to sell cigarettes – and liquor – in South Africa, under the Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
  • Reports on Sunday suggested cigarettes may be bought alongside groceries, but this is, apparently not the case.
  • But the rules could be relaxed to prevent underground sales of cigarettes. 
  • For more stories go to

"High level" discussions are underway to allow for the sales of cigarettes during South Africa’s unprecedented 21-day Covid-19 lockdown, a well-placed source within the national government told Business Insider South Africa. 

The sale of cigarettes – and liquor – remain prohibited during the lockdown enforced in a bid to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, in South Africa. 

On Sunday, reports suggested that the sale of cigarettes will now be allowed, as long as they are bought alongside other food items. But with the regulations still unchanged, that remains illegal, and there is no indication that the rules as they stand will not be enforced.

Also read: If you smoke, prepare to argue cigarettes are a basic good – or go without during lockdown

The regulations can, however, be changed at any time by simple publication in the Government Gazette – and that may happen soon.

The source said the South African government is reconsidering the regulations to allow for cigarette sales, predominantly to prevent underground sales of cigarette. 

The sale of liquor is not part of the discussion, and will at this point remain wholly prohibited, the source said. 

See also our Covid-19 page, with all the important information on the disease in South Africa, constantly updated

An announcement on cigarettes could be made within the next few days. 

Government regulations published last week determined that only the sale of essential food items, household cleaning products, hygiene supplies, and a short list of other items are allowed during the lockdown period.

This lead to mass panic buying of especially liquor before the country entered the national lockdown on Friday.