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Tag: Alcohol ban

Easter long weekend booze ban extends to transporting it anywhere

People will not be allowed to carry alcohol in their cars when they visit friends and families over the Easter long weekend, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced during her media briefing earlier today.

“Over the weekend, the police will be doing roadblocks and stuff.  [People] are not allowed to be carrying alcohol and stuff from one place to the other” she said.

Dlamini-Zuma, who briefed the media on the National Coronavirus Command Council’s (NCC) reasoning behind the latest lockdown restrictions, also explained the government’s decision to ban off-site sales over the long weekend.

After President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address on Tuesday, where he announced the ban, the SA Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) wanted the government to explain the rationale that informed restrictions on off-site sales only.

Dlamini-Zuma said the decision was a precautionary measure to try and prevent the re-occurrance of what happened in December 2020 when the number of Covid-19 infections started rising rapidly because of gatherings.

“Having learned from what happened in December, we have to take precautions because we know that during the Easter weekend, there are lots of movements.  There are lots of gatherings.  Besides the faith-based gatherings, there are also all sorts of other gatherings” said Dlamini-Zuma.

In her isiZulu briefind, Dlamini-Zuma explained that when people drink at these gatherings, alcohol clouds their judgment, social distancing gets thrown out the window, and masks are forgotten.

The NCC hoped that on-site traders like restaurants and bars would keep an eye on their patrons to ensure that they adhere to social distancing protocols.

Dlamini-Zuma pleaded with establishments who have on-site licenses not to turn themselves into off-site traders or allow their patrons to take their open bottles with them.  The minster also allayed fears that the government intended to extend the off-site sales ban after the Easter weekend.  She said off-site alcohol sales would resume on Tuesday morning.

Another Alcohol Ban for Easter

Role players in the hard-hit alcoholic beverage sector are anxiously waiting to see whether President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce stricter lockdown regulations for the Easter long weekend. With the possibility of another so-called ‘family meeting’ ahead of the Easter break expected tonight, the liquor industry is anxious that another liquor ban will be imposed.  The industry has already lost over R36.3 billion in revenue due to the previous alcohol bans since March 2020.

The Liquor Traders Association said that it was aware that it needed to play its part in efforts to circumvent a potential third wave of COVID-19 infections, which could be driven by an Easter Weekend of parties.

The National convener Lucky Ntimane said that they were open to reducing their trading hours and days, however, another outright ban would not be sustainable.

“The majority of our liquor traders, 70% of which are small to medium enterprises, we are really struggling to survive hence the talk of a ban as a way for government to deal with the COVID-19 third wave worries us.”

Ntimane continued saying that the onus remained on the public to ensure they remained compliant and consumed liquor responsibly by not contributing to an increase in alcohol-related trauma.

EFF slams Ramaphosa’s lifting of alcohol ban

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has taken issue with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of lifting the alcohol ban, implying that he is merely bowing to pressure from the sector.

“The reopening of alcohol distribution and sale is reckless and Ramaphosa is doing so to please the alcohol manufacturing capitalist establishment, which has been threatening our country with disinvestment due to the correct decision to curtail the free flow of alcohol,” the EFF said.

South African Breweries (SAB) had announced earlier in January 2021, in light of the alcohol ban, that it was pulling investments worth R2.5 billion in the country.

As of Tuesday, February 2, 2021, the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be permitted from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10:00 to 18:00.

“Duty-free shops, registered wineries, wine farms, micro-breweries and micro-distilleries will be able to sell alcohol for off-site consumption during their normal licensed operating hours. The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for on-site consumption – such as restaurants and taverns – will be permitted throughout the week from 10am to 10pm,” Ramaphosa had announced.

The decision to remove the alcohol ban is undoubtedly a welcome relief for the sector, which had long called on government to allow the sale of booze, as the economic impact had led to the loss of 165 000 jobs.

The EFF is also unimpressed with the fact that the first batch of one million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine landed in the country, something which government has described as an achievement.

“Ramaphosa opens the sale of alcohol on the day a meagre 1 million doses of vaccine arrive in South Africa as if that is enough to insulate more than 58 million people living in South Africa. 1 million doses are not even a drop in an ocean of 58 million people, particularly with the unreliability and undependability of Ramaphosa’s administration to fulfill its commitments,” the EFF further said.

The party has also expressed some skepticism and concern surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination plans, particularly as they pertain to other provinces.

“Gauging by how provincial governments misappropriated funds meant for PPEs and the expansion of the healthcare system, it is a foregone conclusion that vaccines under the control of provincial governments, will not serve the intended purpose”

Zweli Mkhize gives alcohol ban update

As South Africa starts to see the smallest of lights at the end of an extremely long tunnel, Zweli Mkhize has stated that there will be no rush to start lifting restrictions at the slightest hint of progress: Daily COVID-19 cases fell to a one-month low on Monday, prompting hopes that the alcohol ban could soon be relaxed.

The State of Disaster laws are set to be renewed on 15 February – and this is likely to be the earliest date on which the alcohol ban could be repealed. However, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated last week that any changes to liquor regulations can only take place ‘once deaths and hospitalisations are dramatically reduced’.

Adjusted restrictions won’t be happening on the health minister’s watch any time soon, though. Mkhize visited various healthcare centres in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, to assess the situation. There are more active cases in KZN than anywhere else in SA, and interventions have been put into place to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with demand.

It was on these rounds that Zweli Mkhize delivered a sobering update for the drinkers of South Africa. He stated that the alcohol ban has brought ‘huge relief’ to trauma wards and over-populated medical facilities across the nation, and revealed he’s hopeful this period of prohibition will continue ‘for a while’.

“At this point, we are able to focus on the one crisis that the whole country is facing. There is actually a huge relief that has come from the suspension of the sale of alcohol because most of those trauma cases are linked to irresponsible consumption of alcohol, irresponsible behaviour based on the consumption of alcohol.”

“Hopefully, that’s going to continue for a while”

Then we need to get this space to be able to manage people who are under the pressure of COVID-19, so we will then continue to monitor the situation and see when there would be the need to change the restrictions that have been put in place.”

Zweli Mkhize

Here are some of the proposals for lifting the booze ban

Various proposals have been made to the government to lift the ban on liquor sales and distribution under level 3 lockdown.  The booze sales ban was put in place just days before New Year’s Eve, when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move from lockdown level 1 back to adjusted level 3.

It is set to be reviewed on January 15, when other regulations will also be reviewed.

This week, the liquor industry was vocal about the ban, saying it was of grave concern and calling for a review as soon as possible.

Here are some of the proposals that have been made for lifting the alcohol ban:

Craft Brewers Association

The Craft Brewers Association SA (CBASA) issued an urgent call to Ramaphosa to lift the ban.

The association said the third ban was devastating to craft brewers and other small businesses financially, resulting in some brewers dipping into their savings.

“It is now no longer a question of keeping businesses open — it has become a question of whether business owners, their employees and families will have any food to eat this month,” said CBASA CEO Wendy Pienaar.

The association proposed that alcohol be sold through safe alternatives, such as the use of click-and-collect platforms to assist in ensuring the safety of consumers.

Other proposals mooted by the association include:

  • the current evening curfew from 9pm-6am should remain in effect;
  • the 8pm closing time for businesses should continue; and
  • the ban on gatherings should continue, alongside increased policing and enforcement.

Liquor Traders Formation

The Liquor Traders Formation (LTF) proposed that the government permit the sale of alcohol for at-home consumption, subject to limitations.

According to a SABC report, LFT said it will support government efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19 as it will encourage the consumption of liquor at home while ensuring the livelihoods of liquor traders.

The LTF has also called for the government to consider a moratorium on licence renewals and linked fee increases for a period of not less than one year and that a financial package be offered to all liquor traders to cover their non-trading losses to the value of not less than R20,000.

SA Breweries (SAB)

SA Breweries (SAB) proposed a list of actions it believed would both save lives, and breathe life into the economy. The proposals include:

  • restrictions on trade channels;
  • moving taverns from on-licence to off-licence trading;
  • closing bars, but allowing takeaway drinks; and
  • restrictions for trading days and hours at all off-licence premises.

“SAB has formed part of the fabric of SA for the last 125 years and we’ve stood behind the nation through its triumphs and challenges. After much consideration, SAB has decided to approach the courts to challenge the constitutionality of the decision taken to re-ban the sale of alcohol,” said the company.

“This legal action is the last resort available to SAB in order to protect our employees, suppliers, customers, consumers and all the livelihoods we support.”

Khanyi Mbau

Actress and gin producer Khanyi Mbau also proposed that the government look at another strategy, instead of banning alcohol sales completely.

“The reason that I’m raising this is because it’s January – schools are about to reopen, there are families, people that work in the liquor industry who cannot go back to work, earn a living to support their families and make sure that their children go to school,” said Mbau in a video posted on Twitter.

 

Serving Wine in Teapots – Cele

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, said that if anything other than tea is found in teapots, restaurants will lose their trading licences.  The minister warned restaurants against this sneaky practise on Tuesday and said that police was well aware of the tricks employed by some business owners.  Many restaurant owners attempted to flout the alcohol ban during the first and second prohibition but police have adopted a zero tolerance approach.

Wayne Ncube, the deputy director of Lawyers for human rights, on Wednesday said police would not just be loading people up in vans without warning. Ncube said officers would ask you to comply and you’d only be arrested if you refuse to put on a mask.

“Technically speaking, people should not be getting arrested for not having a mask on. It’s the failure to comply when requested that could get someone arrested. On top of that there’s a ministry of justice directive that says people who are arrested on petty crimes should be released on bail and given a court date to come back.”

You can still buy alcohol at the weekend – thanks to one major exemption

All of a sudden, it feels like South Africa has had to go back to basics in its fight against the second wave of COVID-19. Beaches will be closed down, curfew has been extended, and perhaps most harrowing of all, alcohol sales have been banned nationally over the weekend. However, one major exemption on wine farms allows us to ‘bend this rule’.

Speaking on Thursday, Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that liquor stores would only be allowed to open from Monday to Thursday, operating for an eight-hour period between 10:00 – 18:00. That means that booze outlets for off-site consumption will be closed to the public during the following times:

  • Thursday: From 18:00 until 00:00.
  • Friday: ALL DAY.
  • Saturday: ALL DAY.
  • Sunday: ALL DAY.
  • Monday-Thursday: From 00:00 until 10:00 and 18:00 to 10:00 the next day.
  • Drinking in bars and restaurants: Establishments now have to close an hour earlier at 22:00 every night.

But for those still needing a fix, we’ve got some vital information for you. Wine farms can offer off-site sales to patrons during their normal licensing hours – meaning they’ll be the only type of venue that sells alcohol for home consumption over the weekend. Looks like it’s time to refine our pallets and become ‘collective connoisseurs’ for the next few weeks…

“Registered wineries and wine farms may continue to offer tastings and wine sales to the public for off-site consumption over weekends. They can operate during their normal licensing hours. This exception is being made due to the vital contribution of these establishments to the tourism sector in several parts of the country.”

“Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, such as beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden – and we will not allow large numbers of people congregating in any one place without proper controls or protocols in place. These festive season restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the pandemic across the country.”

Cyril Ramaphosa on the weekend alcohol sales exemptions

News: Police investigating voicenote that caused a booze buying frenzy on Tuesday.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed they would be investigating a fake voice note which sent South Africans into a panic about the reinstatement of the alcohol ban.

The message claimed that bottle stores would be closed and that President Cyril Ramaphosa would address the nation about a renewed ban on alcohol sales.

The news sent hordes of South Africans to their local liquor stores to restock on Tuesday.

“We are trying to analyse that voice note and trying to establish its origin,” national police spokesperson Brig Vishnu Naidoo told News24 on Thursday.

Several people have been arrested and fined for spreading fake news.

Naidoo warned that spreading fake news remained an offence under the lockdown.

They state that any person publishing any statement through any medium, including social media, with the intention to deceive any other person about Covid-19, the Covid-19 infection status of any person or any measure taken by the government to address Covid-19, would be committing an offence.

A person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine or imprisonment not exceeding six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

“Spreading of fake news still remains a
contravention in terms of the DMA. We are appealing to anyone who knows who is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of the message to call 086 00 10111 or via MySAPSApp.”

“All information will be treated with strictest confidence,” Naidoo said.

Sources: News24, TimesLive

News: Ramaphosa told to lift the ban on cigarettes and alcohol by the NCCC

According to News24, the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet have been advised to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol and move the country to Alert Level Two of the nationwide lockdown.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce his decision this week.

News24 has confirmed that Ramaphosa chaired meetings of the NCCC and Cabinet on Tuesday where the overwhelming argument was in favour of fully reopening the economy.

This is in light of the fact that fewer confirmed Covid-19 cases have been reported daily. 

Four sources who have knowledge of the discussions told News24 that the economic devastation of the cigarette sales ban could no longer be justified. The country has lost billions of rand in tax revenue as a result of the ban and the illegal selling of cigarettes has flourished. 

The same argument was made for the reinstated alcohol ban that has been in place for the last month. 

Officials said they were told that hospitals were not overwhelmed as expected, and that South Africa’s recovery rate showed a positive trajectory. 

The discussion relating to the full reopening of the economy was first held on Sunday, at an extended meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad).

News: Europe’s top whisky producers have hit out at the South African alcohol ban

Europe’s top whisky and other spirit producers have hit out at the South African alcohol ban, saying prohibition hurts both local producers and European exporters, Business Insider reported.

SpiritsEUROPE, which includes the Scotch Whisky Association, says South Africa is the prime export destination for their spirits in Africa, with a total of €255 million worth sold here in 2019.

The group says it has asked the European Commission to look into the SA ban, as it damages trade agreements between South Africa and Europe.

“The ban rips away all the benefits from the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and South Africa at a time when we should actually find ways to deepen our trading relations to support each other’s recovery processes,” said Ulrich Adam, Director General of spiritsEUROPE.

The association represents the national organisations of countries such as Germany and France. It also represents major producers such as Diageo, Bacardi-Martini, and Moët Hennessy.

Diageo is one of the world’s largest producers, and manufactures brands such as Talisker and Johnnie Walker

According to Adam, the organisation is upset that South African wine producers are still allowed to export to Europe, while international producers are prohibited from selling their products in South Africa, just like their local counterparts.

“Banning sales also means banning imports of European spirits, while South Africa continues to export particularly wine which has 110 million litre quota duty free export into EU under the EPA – contributing to R5.7 billion in net exports earnings for SA on alcohol.”

SpiritsEUROPE says the initial ban, which was lifted on 1 June, cost the country R13.9 billion in taxes – excluding excise taxes. The second ban, which was instituted on 12 July, is on track to cost the country nearly R24 billion.

The organisation says that the loss in excise taxes, specifically, was R4 billion during the first ban. The second ban is on track for a potential loss of R7.2 billion.

“Our member companies operating in South Africa are deeply concerned about the uncertainty of current trading conditions,” says Adam. “The lack of clarity on whether and when the ban might be lifted makes business planning impossible. We therefore need a clear and reliable timeline.”

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