An eerily quiet Woolworths store in Cape Town on the first day of the national lockdown.
  • A visit to Pick n Pay, Spar, Woolworths, Clicks and Checkers on the first day of lockdown showed that there remains uncertainty about what stores can sell.
  • We couldn't buy a kettle or magazines from the Pick n Pay we visited, but these were freely available elsewhere.
  • Cigarettes were nowhere to be found.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

On the first day of lockdown, there still seems to be some uncertainty of exactly what stores can sell. 

Earlier this week, government published a poorly-drafted list of "essential" goods that can be sold during South Africa's Covid-19 lockdown. It included a few broad categories, such as "basic goods" (which definitely include airtime) and "household cleaning products".

Read: You can buy chocolate, chips, and Coke during South Africa’s lockdown

On an excursion on Friday morning, Business Insider found some discrepancies between what stores were selling.

The Pick n Pay we visited in Cape Town refused to sell magazines and household electrical goods like kettles, which were freely available at other stores.  

But all the stores were adamant when it came to cigarettes. No selling allowed:   

A notice at Pick n Pay.

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

At all the stores, aisles selling most of their household and homeware goods, were cordoned off:

Clothing was also off limits:

But there was some confusion when it came to electrical goods. 

At Pick n Pay, there seems to be a strict ban on any household electrical goods. We asked to buy a kettle, but this was not allowed.

But at Checkers and Clicks these were freely available - although beauty-related products like blow dryers weren't for sale:

Photo: Jay Caboz

We couldn't buy magazines at Pick n Pay, but these were available at other stores.

Make-up was not on sale at Clicks:

But Body Shop products were still available:

At Pick n Pay, toys were cordoned off: 

Alcohol was nowhere to be found: 

The alcohol aisle at a Checkers store. Photo: Jay Caboz

Stores were strict about keeping customers one-metre apart, as required by government regulation: 

A notice at a till point in Pick n Pay.

Clicks also warned pharmacy customers not to make chitchat.

A sign at a Clicks pharmacy in Cape Town.

Elsewhere in the mall we visited, the Vodacom store was open, but Cell C not.

Banks were also doing business:

And one store aimed at animal owners was also open:

Other stores that usually sell some food, including Wellness Warehouse and the dried food proprietor Montagu, were closed: 

The shops we visited were very quiet, but in other parts of the country, retailers were doing brisk business:

Police stopped Business Insider to ascertain why we were on the road, and warned that only one person per household should do grocery shopping. 

You can still order food from retailers online, including from Pick n Pay, Checkers' Sixty60 and Woolworths. 

Woolworths has warned, however, that its delivery slots are very full – for some, waiting time can be weeks: 

Woolworths says that orders for fashion, beauty and home products will still be processed, by can only be delivered after lockdown.

Makro will remain open during the lockdown, and its stores will only sell food, personal hygiene items, cleaning equipment, gas and a limited range of essential basic items. Its trading hours will remain unchanged, the company said in a statement.

Takealot is delivering essential products during the lockdown. Clients can order non-essential items during the lockdown, for delivery afterwards.  

NetFlorist will now deliver fresh fruit and vegetables to consumers who stay home due to Covid-19. 

Yuppiechef said it will have to stop deliveries during the lockdown, but will remain open for orders to be delivered after the lockdown period. 

South Africa entered an unprecedented 21-day lockdown on Friday to slow the spread of Covid-19 in the country, which has so far killed two people.  

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