DA calls for home food delivery to be classified essential service and restaurant kitchens to remain open

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, to request that she makes urgent representations to her colleagues on the Executive to amend the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) lockdown regulations in order to include food and grocery delivery services.

While Annexure B of the regulations lists “any food product” as an essential good and “the production and sale” of food products as an essential service – the regulations do not take into consideration people who are unable to physically go to places that supply food.

There are many who are confined to their homes, for whatever reason, and use food delivery services and online delivery services not as a luxury but as a necessity.

Furthermore, the DA is of the view that restaurants should be allowed to keep their kitchens open for food delivery and pick-up within the parameters set for hygiene – while keeping their sit-down areas closed. Linked to this, food and grocery delivery services such as UberEats, Mr. D or services run by restaurants themselves, should therefore also be allowed to operate.

It is logical that restaurants should close their sit-down areas as they have the potential of spreading the virus.  It is, however, illogical that the COGTA regulations Gazetted on Wednesday do not allow for food delivery when South Africans have been requested to remain at home.

Allowing food delivery, could decrease the movement of people to and from shops in accordance with social distancing and will go a long way in ensuring that the restaurant industry remains profitable drivers of employment.

The DA is also concerned by the mixed messaging on the part of Government as the relevant ministers do not seem to be speaking from the same script on the issue of food delivery. At the same time as Trade and Industry Minister, Ebrahim Patel said at the National Command Council press briefing on Tuesday that those who ‘assist in transporting food and other essentials to people’s homes…” should be on the Gazetted list of essential services, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane said that home food delivery would not be allowed.

This doublespeak by Government is only adding confusion to this lockdown process.

The DA calls on Minister Kubayi-Ngubane to seriously consider these important amendments related to food and grocery delivery at it will not only keep South African restaurants alive, but it will also assist those who are permanently confined to their homes.