Experts warned that lockdown laws on clothing sales were 'inappropriate'

27 August 2020 - 18:54 By Leonie Wagner
The sale of certain clothing items was banned under earlier lockdown levels. It emerged on Thursday that expert advisors to the government found this particular regulation inappropriate and intrusive.
The sale of certain clothing items was banned under earlier lockdown levels. It emerged on Thursday that expert advisors to the government found this particular regulation inappropriate and intrusive.
Image: Iavan Pijoos

Remember when you couldn't buy sandals and other open-toed shoes due to SA's lockdown laws?

Well, it emerged on Thursday, the panel of experts advising the government on its regulations to curb the spread of Covid-19 had not only not been consulted on these rules, it found them “inappropriate and unnecessarily intrusive”.

On Thursday, health minister Zweli Mkhize released some of the advisories from the ministerial advisory committee (MAC) on Covid-19. One of these was over the government's much-criticised and mocked prohibition on the sale of certain items of clothing, footwear and bedding.

The advisory relates to regulations implemented under alert level 4, which were seemingly aimed at slowing the transmission of Covid-19 and flattening the curve.

In the advisory, dated May 21, the committee stated: “It is unclear why certain individual items were included while others were excluded. For example, the clothes regulations allow the purchase of close-toed shoes but not open-toed shoes.

“Easing the lockdown through product-level, rather than sector-level, regulations is inappropriate and unnecessarily intrusive.”

The committee was concerned that resources aimed at helping the country’s fight against Covid-19 were used to enforce "unjustifiable regulations". It also warned that such rules could turn the population against the government.

“It is also a source of deep concern that these regulations will detract from the task of fighting Covid-19 and undermine social cohesion and support for the national Covid-19 response,” the document reads.

The committee noted that items listed in the regulations which related to clothes, vehicle purchasing and SMMEs had no relation to the overall goal of reducing the spread of the respiratory illness.

The committee had recommended that regulations related to clothing, vehicle purchasing and SMMEs be withdrawn.

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