Photograph — Maudhui House

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, South Africa’s biggest supermarket Shoprite announced that they will limit purchases of some food products and medicines as frantic shoppers strip shelves in preparation for self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The limit on food purchase is to ensure that more people have access to everyday essentials despite the triggered panic which has caused people across the world to stock their houses with numerous food supplies. In a statement, Shoprite said that “Unfortunately many consumers have not yet heeded to the call to refrain from stockpiling, therefore rationing the sale of certain products has become necessary.”

The Supermarket company has revealed that it will ration the sale of some items like toilet paper, tissues, wipes, liquid soap, hand sanitizer as well as tinned foods, cereals, antiseptic disinfectants liquid, medicines, and vitamins amongst others. 

Woolworths likewise disclosed on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, that it is introducing a limit of only three items per product and per customer on every grocery line. Massmart’s Makro has also restricted purchases of essential items like rice, frozen chicken and toilet paper. Subsequently, other South African retailers are also working with their suppliers to ensure a consistent supply of products like meat, canned food, and medicine.

In addition, Shoprite disclosed that it has also allocated special till points for pensioners and vulnerable people including those with disabilities at its Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets. “The group appeals to senior citizens to shop outside of peak travel times and when stores are quieter to minimize exposure,” Shoprite said.

South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize disclosed on Friday, March 20, 2020, there are a total of 202 confirmed cases with 0 deaths and 2 recoveries in the country. Several countries across Africa are reporting their first cases and an increase in the spread of COVID-19 on a daily basis, with Egypt having the highest number of cases (256) in Africa. This pandemic has led to a rush in shops with customers piling trolleys of wipes, sanitizer, and staples like rice and milk. 

Rationing the sale of certain items will ensure food availability and sustenance of essentials in the long run. Other big supermarkets across Africa should key into this idea and duplicate what Shoprite is doing in South Africa. This will ultimately prevent impending food scarcity, famine, and hunger across nations in the continent of Africa. 

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