/ 1 February 2021

Booze ban likely to be lifted — with limits

South Africa Under Lockdown Amid New Virus Strain
Participants from SAB, the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) and the National Liquor Traders Association said the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown restrictions had hurt the alcohol industry, particularly small-to-medium businesses. (Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to allow the sale of alcohol when he delivers his national address on Monday evening. 

The curfew will probably be pushed back from 9pm to 11pm, two sources close to the matter have told the Mail & Guardian

The presidency had earlier announced that Ramaphosa would address the country after a series of meetings with the National Coronavirus Command Council, the national joint operations and intelligence structures (Natjoint) and the cabinet. 

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed a cabinet meeting took place on Saturday. 

The ban on alcohol sales was high on the agenda of the command council and Natjoints meeting. 

The sources said alcohol sales would be reinstated from Monday to Thursday. 

One of the sources said the decision was taken after “much deliberation and the consideration with the country’s second infection peak slowly waning. There has been consideration made for health care workers and the arrival of vaccines meant that [the alcohol] sector would not continue to take strain.”
The government is under pressure to relax regulations and so help ease the economic constraints.

The government is facing a series of challenges for its decision to ban alcohol sales. The South African Breweries has called the ban unconstitutional. 

In a recent statement, the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association said it was time for the government to roll back the prohibition to limit further losses of jobs and revenue.

The association added that the ban on alcohol sales reduced tax contributions to the government by more than 28%, from R47-billion in 2019/2020 to R34-billion in 2020/2021. 

During the ANC’s recent lekgotla, the government’s biggest affiliate, Cosatu, called it out for failing to provide relief for the alcohol industry. 

The country’s first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India arrived on Monday.