Fikile Mbalula
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at Wednesday's media briefing. Photo: GCIS

Shops will only be allowed to sell food and basic goods during the lockdown, and South Africans won’t be able to shop for non-essentials.

This will cut the time people spend in store as well as the number of people in shops, Ebrahim Patel, minister of trade and industry, said at a media briefing on Wednesday night. Only fifty people will be allowed in a shop at the same time, and they must be one metre apart at all times. Stores will be limited to selling food and essential goods, government announced.

No-one will be allowed to buy clothes – even if the grocery store (for example Woolworths or Pick n Pay) usually sells clothes or homeware. No alcohol will be on sale anywhere during the three weeks.

Government is in negotiations with retailers to perhaps open earlier to accommodate the new public transport hours, said transport minister Fikile Mbalula. Minibus taxis, as well as Uber and Bolt, will be banned from the roads except from 05:00 to 09:00 and from 16:00 to 20:00 during the lockdown.

Mbalula said South Africans should shop in their neighbourhoods. 

Patel said that stores will expected to stick to basic goods, and referred to government’s list of essential goods, which includes toilet paper, hand sanitiser, all-purpose cleaners, baby formula, disposable nappies, cooking oils, wheat flour, rice, maize meal, pasta, sugar, long-life milk as well canned and frozen vegetables and meat.

Last week, government introduced price controls on these products, and urged consumers to report price increases to the National Consumer Commission (telephone number: 0800 014 880). 

So far, thirty cases of price gouging are being investigated by the Competition Commission, and eleven certificates have been issued against  supermarkets including a Spar branch in Silverlakes, Gauteng, for raising the price of Dettol antiseptic; a Spar in Plattekloof, Cape Town for hand sanitiser; North Safety in Cape Town for hand sanitiser; Checkers Hyper in Kempton Park and Makro in Durban for toilet paper; National Overalls in Gauteng for face masks; Bloemfontein Pharmacy in the Free State for gloves; Mopane Pharmacy in Mpumalanga and Seaside Pharmacy in Table View in the Western Cape for face masks; and Pick 'n Pay in Milnerton, Western Cape for hand sanitiser.  

Eight additional certificates were issued on Wednesday, but had not yet been confirmed by the receivers. These were four in Gauteng, one in KwaZulu-Natal, two in the North West Province and one in Limpopo.

Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: