UPDATE: Via EWN on March 27…
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde spoke on Thursday morning to try and clarify this, saying basically it’s an issue of practicality – that cigarettes will be sold but you can’t go to the shops just to buy cigarettes – if it’s part of your shopping for basics, you will still be able to buy them.
Despite this from Winde, the majority of news outlets still report that the sale of cigarettes is a grey area.
In short, these are confusing times, but it appears that you will be able to buy cigarettes as part of any shop for basic goods, but you won’t be able to head to the shops just to buy smokes…
A further update from April 1 (but not an April Fools’ Day joke) via Cape Town ETC:
The Western Cape government has lifted the ban on the selling of cigarettes during the lockdown today [1 April].
“Cigarettes may be sold during the lockdown, but only together with essential goods,” the government said in a statement.
Oh, look, another update, this time from April 2, via IOL:
Police Minister Bheki Cele has hit out at the Western Cape government for implementing “provincial regulations” which differ from the State of Disaster regulations set out by national government..
Cele said the sale of cigarettes were not allowed anywhere in the country.
“There is no province that has a special dispensation out of the regulations that have been signed by the minister. If it is not in the national regulations, it is not allowed to happen. For now, cigarettes are not sold. That includes the Western Cape,” said Cele.
This is getting really, really ridiculous now.
I guess we’ll just keep on updating this post as things change…
Below is the original post from March 26, before the above updates…
As we edge closer to midnight tonight, the exact details of what our 21-day lockdown will entail are becoming clearer.
Yesterday, after some confusion, it was clarified that there will be no jogging, no walking of dogs outside of the house, and no alcohol sales during the lockdown period.
With so many specifics to sort out and nail down, and a massive logistical nightmare in areas like transporting essential goods and workers in certain sectors, there are still some grey areas.
When it comes to buying cigarettes, at present, it looks like bad news for smokers.
This from the Daily Maverick:
Will cigarettes be sold during lockdown?
There is some uncertainty on this point, but smokers should prepare for the possibility that cigarettes will not be able to be sold.
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said that shops will not be able to sell anything other than food and basic goods, and he clarified that cigarettes were not considered basic goods.
The rules and regulations can be changed at any time, by simple publication in the Government Gazette (read in full here), but that’s how things currently stand.
Business Insider South Africa came to the same conclusion:
Unless regulations published on Wednesday change before then, it will be illegal to sell cigarettes in South Africa for three weeks starting on Friday.
The Citizen has a slightly different take:
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel made a statement on Wednesday that cigarette sales were not considered a basic good – with the clarification being that it would not be allowed for anyone to go to a shop simply for the purpose of buying cigarettes. However, if you happen to be at the shop to buy a basic good like bread or milk, then presumably you will also be able to buy cigarettes, assuming they are on the shelf.
IOL, on the other hand, says the “sale of cigarettes is prohibited during 21-day lockdown”.
These are confusing times we live in.
On the balance of things, though, it seems like bad news for smokers.
I guess we’re looking at a day of people panic buying booze and cigarettes.
Please exercise some common sense on this front, because we can undo much of the good work we have done over the last few weeks with a mad scramble and increased exposure today.
Keep your distance, wash your hands, take only what you need and head home.
Maybe even consider this a chance to kick your smoking habit altogether, or cut down on your alcohol intake. I’m not saying you have a problem, but Karen from accounts has been talking behind your back about your rapidly lengthening chardonnay lunches.
I would also like to mention the farcical nature of yesterday’s question and answer session at the security cluster briefing. Aside from the fact that Minister of Police Bheki Cele is clearly a wannabe gangster, and loving the ultimate power bestowed upon him, journalists and the public were left frustrated at many of their questions going unanswered.
Who thought it would be a good idea to take 10 questions at once, and then aimlessly go from minister to minister as they vaguely address a few concerns and move on?
One question, one answer, and nobody moves on until there is clarity – please, sort this out going forward.
President Ramaphosa and other key decision-makers should be applauded for the lockdown measures, but what we need now is clear, concise information so that there is no room for confusion.
After all, announcing the lockdown is the easy part, and putting in place the logistics to ensure it runs smoothly is something else altogether.
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