'State to ease lockdown to allow sale of winter clothes' - Dlamini-Zuma
The government is planning to allow retailers to reopen for business so citizens can buy winter clothes, stationery and other goods that up to now have not been deemed as essential.
This is according to co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, whose department is responsible for drafting the national lockdown regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
Dlamini-Zuma on Tuesday said the national command council on the coronavirus was discussing how the strict lockdown regulations could be relaxed to allow for trading related to the winter season.
Responding to questions from MPs during a virtual meeting with the National Assembly's portfolio committee on co-operative governance, Dlamini-Zuma said the government was likely to allow people to buy goods such as winter clothing and heaters as the winter seasons gains momentum.
Dlamini-Zuma also said as they were preparing to ease the lockdown that entered day 26 on Tuesday and was due to end on April 30, government was planning to allow stationers to resume trading to allow students to buy material essential for their home-based learning.
"Stationery, yes, those are some of the things I was talking about," Dlamini-Zuma said in response to a question. "Winter is setting in so we need to ensure that, even if other things are not opened, winter clothes and other winter things like heaters and so on may have to be opened. Just like stationery, it's one that may need to be looked at."
MPs from across the political spectrum, including those from her own ANC party, the EFF and the DA, criticised Dlamini-Zuma's decision to stop supermarkets selling cooked hot food such as roast chicken, chips, pies and shisanyama.
The MPs said the decision simply did not make sense as most essential workers relied on takeaways during their working hours.
The legislators also argued that the decision was killing the businesses of informal food traders in townships.
But Dlamini-Zuma defended the "no hot food" rule, saying it was giving an unfair advantage to fast food outlets that have been stopped from trading since the start of the lockdown on March 26.
She said allowing fast food outlets to reopen would render the national lockdown futile, as people would flood the streets in pursuit of their favourite takeaways.
"If we open up the sale of fast food, we must open it up everywhere. We can't say we should only open it for this shop or that shop, but the woman selling fat cakes cannot sell.
"It either happens across the board or it doesn't happen at all. But, as I said, we are in discussions about how to ease the lockdown," she said.