The Democratic Alliance (DA) has slammed the ban on the sale of cooked hot food during the lockdown period as “shortsighted and mean-spirited.”
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma formally gazetted the ban in a notice on Monday.
She amended the regulations to allow the sale of any food products “but excluding cooked hot food.”
DA to write to Minister Patel
In a subsequent statement, DA MP Dean Macpherson said, “Today’s amendment … is shortsighted and mean-spirited, especially for frontline healthcare workers, members of the security services, essential service workers and transport workers like truck drivers who rely on cooked food due to the work they are doing.”
He said the ban will also be “devastating” for elderly people who may be unable to cook for themselves.
“I will now write to [Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim] Patel through our lawyers requesting the reasons for this ban on cooked and prepared food which should be provided to us by midday on Tuesday, 20 April, 2020. We will then be able to decide on our next course of action,” Macpherson added.
Before Monday’s gazette notice, there had been some confusion after legal experts disputed Patel’s comments last week that the regulations did not permit the sale of cooked hot food.
Retailers complied before formal ban
The DA was planning to approach the North Gauteng high court to have Patel’s comments declared illegal.
However, major retailers, including Woolworths and the Shoprite Group, announced on Friday that they would close their hot food counters.
Woolworths spokesperson told News24, “At the ministerial press briefing that took place on 16 April, it was communicated that retailers are not permitted to trade the hot food counters in their stores.
“While this has not yet been formally promulgated in the regulations, and we are seeking clarity on the way forward, we took the decision to close all hot food counters with immediate effect to adhere to the communication by [Patel].”
Over the weekend, the President’s Coordinating Council, which is chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, agreed to adopt a “risk-adjusted approach” with regard to easing the regulations.
“Such approach would entail the gradual easing of regulations in various sectors, guided by available evidence which supports the ongoing containment of the virus, until the economy is operating once more on full capacity,” it said.