Bottle stores will be permitted to sell alcohol on Fridays under Level 1, having been limited to trading hours from Monday to Thursday during Level 2. Weekends are still off-limits though, and Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma explained why during a briefing of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) on Friday 18 September. 

She said that government is still taking a cautious approach to opening the floodgates for South Africans to buy alcohol. 

‘Gradual’ reopening of alchol sales during Level 1 

Alcohol can now be sold for off-site consumption by registered retailers from Monday to Friday, between 9:00 and 17:00. Consumption and sales of alcohol is permitted at restaurants and bars up until the curfew comes into effect at 22:00.

Dlamini-Zuma said that when laws controlling the sale of alcohol were lifted in the past, hospitals became overrun with trauma admissions. 

“When he liquor laws were lifted before and alcohol could be sold, you will recall that the number of patients admitted to hospitals went up. Now the hospitals aren’t under so much pressure,” she said. “The liquor is being opened gradually.”

She confirmed that the sale of liquor for on-site consumption is permitted up until curfew is implemented. 

“Now it is Monday to Friday because government is trying to be cautious as it moves forward. Before, the curfew was 22:00, which means that places like restaurants, bars, taverns could not be opened longer. But now people must be home by midnight.”

“It is gradual so that we don’t have unforeseen problems like those we have seen in the past,” she said. “Those who sell liquor on site are able to sell, controlled by the curfew. Whether it is a wine farm, restaurant, whatever.”

Businesses bemoan limited trading hours  

South Africans suffered over 100 days of alcohol prohibition during the earlier lockdown phases, so when it was announced that sales would be permitted only on certain days, nobody complained too vocally. As the country moves to Level 1 though, questions have been raised concerning the logic behind the restriction on weekend sales. 

Christo van der Rheede, the deputy executive director of Agri SA, shared a statement earlier this week, claiming the new rules were a ‘punch in the gut’ to businesses that are dependent on alcohol sales:

“The reopening of all economic sectors will contribute to economic growth. For this reason, the ban on the sale of wine in stores and on wine farms, especially over weekends, makes no sense. 

“This measure has an extremely negative impact on the financial sustainability of wine farms which attract a large number of visitors, particularly over weekends.”

.

Presh JM Reporter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *