South Africa’s national lockdown went into effect at midnight yesterday, but given the frantic nature of the announcement and the lack of information as to how it will be regulated, there is still some developments happening on the retail front. Case in point Vodacom, which has confirmed that 139 of its stores will remain open during the lockdown.

There are of course some caveats, with the stores featuring limited operating hours in keeping with what government has outlined, as well as keeping to the scheduled that many malls and shopping centres in the country are now implementing.

“While we are all feeling anxious about the health and wellness of loved ones, family, colleagues and members of our community, we cannot ignore that the Government has called upon us to act in support of ensuring our community remains connected during this time of lockdown,” said Jorge Mendes, chief officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit, in a press statement.

“In line with governments’ regulations, certain Vodacom stores will trade with limited working hours and strict procedures to ensure our customers stay connected. The limited trading stores will only supply goods and execute services that are deemed essential, such as data, airtime, repairs and sim-swaps,” he added.

Vodacom’s flagship store, Vodacom World will remain open, however trading hours are also limited, the company has explained.

The carrier has also noted that the following measures will be implemented for health and safety of employees and customers alike during the lockdown:

  • Hand sanitisers for customers and employees
  • Installing of screen dividers will ensure physical distancing
  • Doors remaining closed at all times
  • One customer per agent at any given time to ensure physical distancing.

“As a business committed to supporting our customers during this uncertain time, we strongly encourage our customers to stay at home and rather make use of our online platform and services. Customers should only leave their houses to go to our stores to perform critical services that cannot be performed online,” concluded Mendes.

Vodacom has encouraged customers not willing to risk heading to stores to also contact the company’s self-help platforms – namely the My Vodacom, VodaPay and Masterpass apps.

The firm’s call centre is still operational, however, there are a limited number of people working there. The Vodacom WhatsApp chatbot, ToBi, is also available to facilitate queries on 082 009 8624.