President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on April 23 that tobacco sales could resume from May 1, when the country moved from the top virus alert level 5 to level 4, but the government later backtracked and the ban remained in force. On May 13, Ramaphosa said the lockdown would be eased again by the end of the month to allow more businesses to reopen, but didn’t give details.
“Our understanding is that the issue is now before the National Coronavirus Command Council, where it is being debated,” the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association said in a statement on Friday. The industry body has taken legal action against the government, which has until Tuesday to provide reasons why the ban remains in force, according to a court order.
A ban on alcohol sales is likely to be partially lifted when the country moves to level 3, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Dlamini-Zuma, who favors the retention of a strict lockdown, is starting to lose the support of some ruling party members, who see it harming the economy and are concerned that illicit trade in banned goods, including cigarettes, are gaining traction, they said.