Trade, industry competition minister Ebrahim Patel has backed down over government’s ban on unfettered e-commerce during level-4 of the lockdown, handing a stunning victory to an industry that has lobbied hard to have the restrictions removed.
Patel drew sharp criticism in late April when he effectively shot down requests by online traders to allow unfettered e-commerce in South Africa, saying doing so would be seen to be “unfair competition” and risked spreading Covid-19.
Greater levels of e-commerce for goods that are normally not for sale in retail stores can introduce increased health risks…
Many online retailers, including the country’s largest, Takealot.com, have argued that unfettered online shopping has been allowed in most other countries, including China, during their lockdowns as a way of containing the spread of the novel coronavirus while supporting economic activity.
They also state that e-commerce is “an important retail platform” but that “appropriate health and safety protocols need to be put in place which can allow the full e-commerce supply chain to operate safely while mitigating the risk of it becoming a vector for transmission of the coronavirus”.
“Greater levels of e-commerce for goods that are normally not for sale in retail stores can introduce increased health risks by greater movement of courier or delivery service personnel, and hence health and safety protocols are important to mitigate this risk.