Fri, 10 Jul 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday evening liquor sales will be permitted under Level 3 lockdown regulations from 1 June.

He said liquor would be allowed to be sold for home consumption only under strict conditions, on specified days and for limited hours.

Ramaphosa added discussions with the sector were ongoing where conditions for sales were expected.

READ | Lockdown Level 3: Here's what's allowed

A briefing by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) where details on the sale of liquor were expected, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, was postponed to Wednesday.

Your surname will likely not be used to determine on which day you can buy liquor

Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) spokesperson Sean Robinson said an earlier suggestion the association had made to use surnames to determine when people would be allowed to buy liquor would likely not be used.

The LTASA previously suggested people with surnames from A to M would be allowed to buy liquor on Mondays and Wednesday, and those with N to Z surnames on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"This proposal has, however, been rejected during discussion as it would be impossible to police," Robinson told News24. "How are you going to control who shops when?"

Discussions are underway to have entire day liquor sales, Monday to Thursday

Wine producer association, Vinpro, spokesperson Wanda Augustyn told News24 discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry indicated liquor sales would be permitted from Monday to Thursday, from 09:00 until 17:00.

ALSO READ | Tavern owners happy alcohol ban lifted, but need assistance from suppliers

The government previously proposed it would be permitted between 09:00 and 12:00 on Mondays to Wednesdays to avoid excessive alcohol consumption, particularly over weekends.

Augustyn said the industry had been lobbying for extended hours in meetings with the department on Tuesday morning, and it appeared it agreed with the approach to avoid congestion at stores.

She, however, added no decisions about times for liquor sales were made at this meeting.

"We have learnt our lesson not to trust anything the department says until we have it in writing," Augustyn said.

The government previously backtracked on an agreement to allow South African wineries to transport and export during Level 5.

Robinson said during discussions with the department it was agreed limited liquor sales hours would cause a rush to stores which would make social distancing difficult to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Limited numbers of people will be allowed at liquor stores

He added customers would likely be limited to liquor outlets, with the number of customers allowed calculated according to an outlet's floor size.

Robinson said all the typical safety protocol introduced at other retail stores - such as distance in queues, wearing masks, and hand sanitiser - would also apply to liquor stores.

He added liquor stores knew how to deal with high-demand days, such as Black Friday and New Year's Eve, and would implement similar measures.

Augustyn said wineries across the country were also working on systems where people would be able to order online, and simply collect their order when ready.

She added liquor stores were already at work preparing to open on 1 June, and she expected most to be fully stocked and able to apply safety measures to reopen by that time.

Shebeens and taverns will likely only open at a later stage

Despite repeated calls for shebeens and taverns in townships to be allowed to sell liquor for home consumption, Robinson said discussions with the department indicated this would likely only happen at a later stage.

He added if shebeens and taverns were opened, it would spread the demand and there would be less congestion at stores.

"This will naturally help to ensure that numbers are more manageable at outlets."

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