Tobacco industry breathes a sigh of relief as minister verbally confirms the lifting of five-month-long ban that led to a surge in black market trade.
“WE MUST smoke cigarettes as they are now allowed, but don’t share them as you can pass the virus to the next person”.
With these words, Cooperative Governance Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Monday confirmed the lifting in law of South Africa’s ban on tobacco sales after almost five months.
The regulations published on Monday by Dlamini Zuma to give effect to the easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced at the weekend, including reopening inter-provincial travel and alcohol sales, nowhere explicitly mentions tobacco trade.
Instead, it is absent from a table of economic activities expressly prohibited under alert Level 2 of the country’s lockdown, which takes effect at one minute past midnight on Monday.
Alcohol sales, which were allowed for a fortnight during alert Level 3 before being prohibited again, are subject to limitations set out in Government Gazette notice 43620 published on Monday containing the revised regulations.
It provides for sales between 9am and 5pm on Mondays to Thursdays but restaurants, taverns and bars will be allowed to serve alcohol until 10pm. They may not host more than 50 clients at a time.
South Africa’s night-time curfew barring movement between 10pm and 4pm also remains in place.
The tobacco industry breathed a sigh of relief as the minister verbally confirmed the lifting of an unprecedented ban that led to a surge in black market trade.
Cigarette makers now face considerable logistical difficulties in getting their wares to shops by Tuesday. Though president Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lifting of the ban on Saturday evening, they were not allowed to transport cigarettes to retailers over the weekend.
Amalgamated Tobacco Manufacturing’s (ATM) Yusuf Kajee said his company would only send out trucks with stock on Tuesday morning.
Dlamini Zuma was an adamant proponent of the tobacco ban, claiming that it was essential to prevent smokers with severe coronavirus symptoms overwhelming the health services during the pandemic. She said the fact that South African citizens regularly share cigarettes heightened the risk of transmission of the virus.
– African News Agency (ANA)