Good news for smokers in the Western Cape
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Cape Town – The Western Cape government has given smokers a break during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
It is the only province yet to have eased a ban on the sale of cigarettes. However, there is one condition – it has to be bought together with essential goods.
The ban on buying cigarettes had earlier been lifted by the Garden Route Municipality, but this now applies to the entire Western Cape. There have been reports, however, that certain retailers are still not selling cigarettes today.
The National Disaster Act had outlawed the sale of cigarettes during the three-week lockdown period, but the SA Drug Policy Initiative, for one, this week pleaded for the ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco to be reversed as soon as possible.
It believed it discriminated against the poor, puts the health of the mentally ill and marginalised at risk, and gifts crime syndicates and gangs another source of income.
“The Western Cape is helping businesses understand and adapt to lockdown regulations. We realise that there has been some confusion about what stores are able to remain open to provide essential goods.
"We can now confirm that cigarettes may be sold during the lockdown – but only together with essential goods,” the Western Cape government said in a statement yesterday.
“We know that times are tough, and so we continue to work hard to back businesses. We want to save employers, the job market and our economy in the province.
"We are all in this together and every single one of us is responsible for stopping the spread of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.”
Premier Alan Winde said on Thursday: ''It was an interpretation of the law which doesn't specifically say no cigarettes. The agreement was that as long as it is with shopping items, then it would be fine.
"It is not about just going and buying cigarettes. It's not about the opening of tobacconists or cigarette-specific shops. It is part of your buying essential items. That was agreed yesterday in our report-back meeting."
Clarity has also been provided by the City of Cape Town on the shops that may remain open:
* Grocery stores (including large retail chains as well as smaller food shops, fruit and veg shops, butchers and convenience stores at filling stations)
* Spaza shops
* Pet stores (only selling animal food)
* Health food stores. Where these shops sell food, hygiene products and/or cleaning products, they are permitted to be open. If open, these stores may sell ONLY essential goods
In addition to the above, businesses can deliver essential goods to people’s homes, but they can't deliver hot meals or any non-essential goods.