By GENEVIEVE QUINTAL
Government will be talking to retailers such as supermarkets, which are allowed to remain open during the national lockdown, about operating times.
Minister of trade & industry Ebrahim Patel said the talks would be about retailers opening earlier and closing earlier to limit the movement of people.
The 21-day national lockdown starts at midnight on Thursday and ends on April 16.
The lockdown is intended to curb local transmission of the virus, which has spread to all nine provinces. As of Wednesday, the total number of reported cases stood at 709, with 319 cases in Gauteng.
South Africans would only be allowed to leave their homes under strictly controlled circumstances such as for medical care, to buy food, medicine and other supplies, and to collect social grants.
Patel said the regulations set out three conditions that applied to the sale of essential goods.
He said retailers had to put in place controls to ensure that consumers keep a distance of at least a one metre radius. They will also have to limit the number of people who enter the store based on its size.
All shopping centres and supermarkets selling essential goods also had to follow all directions in terms of hygienic conditions.
Patel said retailers that sold a range of products as well as food would be limited to selling only essential goods.
He said this was not a time for “general shopping”.
Patel said the regulations were in place to reduce numbers and time spent in a store. South Africans must complete their basic shopping and return home.
Citizens were also told to shop close to home.