Minister of trade, industry and competition Ebrahim Patel has handed a lifeline to the cinema industry. In newly gazetted amendments to regulations, he says he is also mulling over the possibility of opening cinemas.
Amongst the amendments is the announcement that earlier directives on what kinds of clothing and bedding could be sold – which caused a controversy – have now lapsed, meaning that all types of items can now be sold.
Directives on workplace protocols at call centres and car repair centres, as well as regarding the sale of cars, have been withdrawn and replaced with directives issued by minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi last week.
Patel has also eased restrictions on some medications, which under previous regulations required a permit to purchase. This was done in order to allow the government to procure medicines needed in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Furthermore, regulations related to export controls have been amended and simplified,” said the minister in a statement.
“This means a number of categories of medication (set out at 8-digit level), will no longer require export permits under the Covid-19 export control regime. In addition, these medicines deemed critical in the fight against Covid-19 will no longer require export permits when exporting to SACU [the Southern African Customs Union] or for clinical trial.
“In addition, following consultations with the Competition Commission, regulations pertaining to the Covid-19 block exemption for the retail property sector have been amended to include the cinema exhibition industry.
“The regulations are aimed at exempting certain conduct between designated retail tenants and the retail property sector, to promote concerted conduct to prevent an escalation of the national disaster.”
In the gazette Patel said the cinema industry has faced hardship and asked of him to intervene.
“In terms of the disaster management regulations, theatres and cinemas must remain closed to the public and all gatherings at these places or premises are prohibited during alert level 3,” the gazette reads.
“The department has received representation from stakeholders in the cinema exhibition industry on the safe reopening of the sector, and is engaging in a process with stakeholders and the national department of health to determine the appropriate protocols for reopening of the sector.
“The sector has experienced hardships and requested that consideration be given to its inclusion in the above-named exemption. The Covid-19 block exemption for the retail property sector is therefore extended to the cinema exhibition industry during this period.”