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Govt officially bans selling of prepared food amid COVID-19 lockdown

Last week, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel announced during a media conference that supermarkets should not be selling hot foods.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - Government has on Monday gazetted the new regulations on the sale of hot-prepared foods making it officially unlawful to sell prepared foods.

Last week, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel announced during a media conference that supermarkets should not be selling hot foods.

This was met with uncertainty by retailer Woolworths who stopped the sale of these goods but still sought legal opinion.

Lawyers for Woolworths, Webber Wentzel, had disputed the call by the minister, saying according to the initial lockdown regulations, the sale of prepared or cooked food had not been prohibited.

But after Monday’s gazette, government has the backing of the law.

This hasn’t stopped business group Sakeliga from pursuing their own legal battle against the minister.

Legal analyst Daniel du Plessis said: “Many people don’t have all resources to cook for themselves as some people might be too old, some might be too busy especially this time. And it seems that there is no real reduction in risk.”

The group had given the minister until Monday to respond to their plea not to stop the sale of cooked foods.

Du Plessis said the minister had asked to be given until Wednesday to respond.

At the same time, Woolworths said it would not be taking legal action against the Department of Trade and Industry after it discontinued the sale of hot prepared foods.

Woolworths said it would not be escalating the matter to the courts but it would continue selling their refrigerated prepared foods.