South Africa

ALERT LEVEL 3

Tavern owners raise a glass to on-site alcohol sales

Khayalami Lounge at Duduza Tavern in Ekurhuleni. (Photo: Gallo Images / OJ Koloti)

South Africa has been moved to Alert Level 3 regulations because of the increase in confirmed Covid-19 infections. One of the new regulations limits the off-site sale of alcohol. The move to allow on-site sales has been welcomed by tavern owners, who say this will keep their livelihoods afloat.

The National Liquor Traders Council has welcomed the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to not restrict on-site consumption of alcohol, said convenor Lucky Ntimane in reaction to the new Alert Level 3 coronavirus regulations.

On Tuesday evening, the president announced South Africa would be moving to Alert Level 3.

“The massive surge in new infections means that we must once again tighten restrictions on the movement of persons and gatherings… We need to enforce compliance more rigorously and we need to take firmer action against those who do not adhere to the regulations,” said the president in his address to the nation.

The new restrictions include:

  • The sale of alcohol from retailers for off-site consumption will only be allowed between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday.
  • Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be allowed as per licensing conditions, up to 9pm, when restaurants, bars and taverns are to close.
  • Establishments, including restaurants and bars, need to close by 9pm to allow employees and patrons to travel home before the 10pm curfew.
  • All gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors – this includes restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places.

Ntimane said tavern owners “have been working very hard to ensure that patrons comply with Covid-19 safety protocols and will continue to do so”. Speaking on the restrictions, Ntimane said a whole-of-society approach to managing the pandemic and “driving compliance with safety protocols through broad cooperation is far more effective than top-down restrictions, and we’re glad the government has recognised this”.

He said compliant liquor outlets needed to be protected from the illicit alcohol trade, which is the only beneficiary of alcohol bans.

“This decision to allow taverns and other on-consumption outlets to continue trading will help to protect livelihoods supported by the legal liquor industry, and we appreciate the fact that the  government has taken this into consideration.”

Earlier this year, during the third total ban on alcohol sales, several winemakers, including Siwela Masoga, were in favour of limitations, such as restricting sales to online, rather than outright bans.

Politicians agree that vaccination efforts need to be sped up 

pandemic
Elderly people wait for their Covid-19 vaccinations in Munsieville, Krugersdorp on 17 May 2021. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla / Daily Maverick)

The Democratic Alliance leader, John Steenhuisen, said the restrictions announced by the president were necessary because “of his administration’s failure to acquire and secure an adequate supply of vaccines, failure to design and implement an efficient vaccine roll-out, and failure to build healthcare capacity.”

The DA’s Siviwe Gwarube and Geordin Hill-Lewis held a media briefing where they requested a parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the vaccination programme.

“Resorting to alcohol bans, curfews and restrictions on restaurant capacity is a tacit admission that government has failed to do its actual job,” said Steenhuisen. “Many of these restrictions are ineffectual and are being imposed to create the illusion of doing something.

The restrictions announced by the president were “unavoidable”, said Good party Secretary-General Brett Herron. “Lapses in our adherence to the health protocols, and the slow roll-out of the vaccine, have led our country into a deadly third wave of resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Herron urged a mass vaccination effort to avoid a potential fourth wave in December, and with it more economic damage. “Saving lives and saving emerging economies, like South Africa’s, requires a global agreement that vaccinations should be more easily, more readily and more abundantly available,” he said.

A similar call was made by the Inkatha Freedom Party, whose spokesperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said the move to Alert Level 3 “also signals that government is simply sleeping at the wheel in terms of the vaccine roll-out programme. Little information has been provided by the Department of Health or the president… as to how government will fast-track the vaccine roll-out programme.”

By Tuesday 1,871,987 vaccine doses had been administered in South Africa, broken down into 1,392,219 first doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 479,768 vaccinations under the Sisonke protocol for healthcare workers. DM

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