Home South African Online shopping restrictions lifted – except for alcohol, cigarettes

Online shopping restrictions lifted – except for alcohol, cigarettes

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Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel gazetted the amendments on Thursday after consultation with Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

ASIDE from alcohol and cigarettes, South Africans are no longer restricted about what products they may buy online, with immediate effect.

Online sales had been limited to essential goods such as winter wear and food since the start of the lockdown in March.

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel gazetted the amendments on Thursday after consultation with Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Patel drew strong criticism late last month when he shot down requests to free up e-commerce, arguing it would be “unfair competition” and risked spreading Covid-19.

“If we open up any one category, let’s say e-commerce, unavoidably there’s enormous pressure to do the same for physical stores, for spaza shops, for informal traders, so there is fair competition,” Patel said.

According to the new regulations, e-commerce sites and customers receiving packages must comply with new requirements to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

On Wednesday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that restrictions on both retail and e-commerce would be eased for level 4.

“In order to limit the social and economic hardship caused by the pandemic on local industries and enable consumer choice to support local producers, retailers must give prominence to those goods which are manufactured in the Republic of South Africa,” the new regulations state.

Online retailers are also require to “provide for as many payment options as possible for consumers, that are based on reducing risks of transmission, and enabling poorer consumers to access delivery services”.

South Africa was one of the only countries in the world to shut down online e-commerce in such a major way.

The restrictions on e-commerce was one of the issues the DA intended challenging in court.