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Govt introduces tighter restrictions on alcohol sales

In a national address on Monday, 14 December, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced tighter Level 1 lockdown restrictions amid the second wave of Covid-19 infections. Among the amendments are reintroduced restrictions on alcohol sales.

©Bizoo via 123RF

The sale of alcohol from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday, and alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden.

Registered wineries and wine farms may continue to offer tastings and wine sales to the public for off-site consumption over weekends. “This exception is being made due to the vital contribution of these establishments to the tourism sector in several parts of the country,” said the President.

As the curfew has been extended and will now be from 11pm to 4am, bars and restaurants must close at 22:00 to allow staff to get home.

Concern around sales restrictions

The South African alcohol industry has stated that it supports the government's risk-adjusted approach of applying measured interventions focused on hotspot areas. However, the significant restriction put on the off-consumption outlets to trade only from 10am to 6pm on Monday to Thursday is an area of concern.

"Like grocery shops, off-consumption retailers have demonstrated effort to adhere to the safety protocols in the management of shoppers. The severe limitation put on the off-consumption channel will have a devastating impact that could potentially lead to job losses in the retail sector," the industry said in a press statement.

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The industry welcomed the government’s acknowledgment of the valuable contribution made by the wine industry to the country’s tourism sector, but added that "the craft brewers make equally valuable contributions, and while they were not explicitly mentioned, it is hoped that the contribution by microbreweries to tourism will also be recognised."

The industry previously voiced its support of the government’s measures to reduce the spike in coronavirus infections stemming from gatherings. It decided recently to withdraw all brand support for major entertainment events during the festive season for which an events licence is required.

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Adherence to regulations

The industry said it will continue to collaborate closely with various spheres of government to ensure that the lockdown Level 1 regulations are adhered to and that everyone remains vigilant.

Overall, the industry said it respects the government’s rational and measured response to the increases in the number of cases in various hot spots. "We echo the President’s call to remain vigilant and urge alcohol outlets to adhere to the government’s Covid-19 regulations, namely, insisting on masks, maintaining social distancing, obeying the curfew hours and sanitising regularly and repeatedly. The same goes for the customers."

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The alcohol industry seeks a social compact with the government, industry and civil society to continue the sector’s vital economic activity, save businesses and jobs while ensuring its workers’ safety, promote responsible trading and the sensible consumption of alcohol.

It already committed R150m to address the four specific areas prioritised in the proposed social compact: reducing the incidence of binge drinking, drink driving, and underage drinking and gender-based violence.

The industry urges everyone to download the Covid Alert SA app from either the Apple App or Google Play stores. The public should make use of the Consumer Goods Council hotline to report any violation of the regulations: 0800 014 856.

The South African alcohol industry includes but is not limited to the National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC), South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba), the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa), Vinpro, retailers and manufacturers.



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