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South Africa to enter lockdown, but fruit exports to continue

South Africa will go on a nationwide lockdown midnight March 26 to prevent the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, but industry sources report fruit exports are expected to continue without interruption.

Under the lockdown, expected to last until April 16, individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances.

Fruit South Africa, an association of South African fruit exporters, said in a news release that the 21-day government lockdown exempts those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food.

“Agricultural operations will continue. It would be wrong to say it is ‘business as usual’ as we will need to change some of what we do – but operations must continue,” Justin Chadwick, chairman of Fruit South Africa, said in the release. “With the South African citrus, pome and avocado season now in full swing and the table grape season into its final two weeks, it is essential for the industry to remain calm and focus on the continuation of business.”

The release said the South African fruit industry is committed to adhere to government protocols and to do everything in their power to protect all industry role players.

The education of workers at the farm level is critical in containing the spread of the virus among workers, according to the release, and the various local industry bodies are in daily contact with their growers with information about the outbreak.

“Fruit South Africa has developed a set of guidelines to educate the industry on basic hygiene in the workplace, screening and social distancing,” the release said.


South African ports will remain open for the import and export of food and other essential goods, according to the release.

“The South African fruit industry is committed to make the next 21 days count and be part of the solution by continuing to supply healthy fruit, high in vitamins and minerals, to consumers domestically and abroad while all measures are being taken to protect workers and their families,” the release said.