MEC Sello Lehari in the Brits grocery store.

A Brits supermarket, belonging to a national franchise, was forced to close its doors on Thursday and its acting manager was charged for contravening COVID-19 protocols during a blitz operation by the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management(DCSTM) in North West.

According to DCSTM spokesperson, Alpheus Koonyaditse, the shop’s manager tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and went home to quarantine. “However, despite having had contact with almost all staff members, especially the two deputy managers, the shop opened on Thursday without those close contacts being told to self-isolate too,” he said. Koonyaditse said the shop premises and manager’s office were not decontaminated and the shop continued “business as usual”.

“The assistant managers on duty were tongue-tied when asked why the store was operational, and why they were at work, while they knew that they have been confirmed as close contacts of the manager.”

Brits police ordered the supermarket to close its door immediately and a case of contravention of COVID-19 regulations was opened. The acting manager was fined. The shop was ordered to decontaminate the premises before it reopens.

A small shop close to the supermarket was also closed after it was found that they were not following COVID-19 protocols.

“One would have thought by now business would be taking a lead in ensuring compliance. It is regrettable that even major franchises are ignoring basic COVID-19 guidelines”, the MEC for DCSTM, Sello Lehari said.

The MEC and law enforcement officials visited Brits as part of the department’s province-wide road safety and law enforcement operations. During the operation, the team made unannounced visits to local shopping complexes and malls. “Although there was a semblance of compliance at first glance, closer inspection found serious violations. Some did not even have a sign advising shoppers to wear masks. Although they had sanitisers, in some shops it was not located at the entrance,” Koonyaditse said.

Lehari also visited taxi ranks in Brits and said he was “ relatively impressed” as most taxi rank users complied with Covid-19 safety measures, but that social distancing remained a challenge.

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