South Africa’s department of trade, industry and competition on Thursday clarified that despite the closure of general businesses during a 21-day national lockdown to grapple with Covid-19, shops selling products for babies and toddlers were allowed to trade. 

The regulations published by the minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma under a government notice on March 18 were amended in subsequent notices on March 25 and 26.

Trade, industry and competition department spokesman Sidwell Medupe said the amendments included products for the care of babies and toddlers in the list of  essential goods.

“Following requests for clarification, we confirm that this provision includes baby clothes, blankets, towels and other essential accessories for new-borns, infants and toddlers up to 36 months old,” he said.

To ensure the effectiveness of the lockdown in containing the spread of Covid-19, all stores currently permitted to remain open for the sale of other essential goods, including supermarkets, may therefore sell these products, he added.

“We have been in contact with the CEO’s of the large retailers, who have undertaken to sell these products at prices which simply cover their basic costs of production and distribution for the period of the lockdown,” Medupe said.

“Hospitals and clinics may directly procure these products as necessary to provide for the infants in their care.”

Data released on Wednesday showed South Africa had recorded five more Covid-19-related deaths, bringing the total to 18, while the number of confirmed infections of the novel coronavirus nationally had risen by 96 to 1,845.

Under the lockdown people in South Africa are, until April 16, required to stay confined at home unless shopping for food, seeking medical help or supplies, banking, buying petrol, collecting social grants or performing essential services.