Keep your stocked up bottles of alcohol to yourself, ministers warn

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
  • Minister Dlamini-Zuma said transportation and distribution of alcohol is limited to exports, manufacturer storage or alcohol used in industry.
  • Dlamini-Zuma said there will be a review of the current lockdown conditions after two weeks, but until then, the sale of liquor for consumption will be banned.
  • Minister of Police Bheki Cele said any licensed establishment attempting to sell liquor under the level 3 lockdown ran the risk of arrest as well as the loss of their licence.

Cabinet ministers told reporters on Tuesday morning that the fresh ban on alcohol trade announced on Monday evening will be reviewed after two weeks, but advised those who may have stocked up on liquor ahead of the announcement to keep it to themselves.

On Monday evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa told South Africans that the country would shift to lockdown level 3, in response to the surge in cases that drove South Africa past a million Covid-19 cases.

The government gazette on the latest lockdown level 3 was signed and distributed on Tuesday. It said the only alcohol that can now be distributed or transported is for export and alcohol required for industries producing hand sanitizers, industrial use and household cleaning products.

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma said the ban on liquor announced by Ramaphosa extended not only to retailers who sold alcohol, but to those distributing alcohol for consumption. 

"Liquor cannot be sold for on-site or off-site consumption. Transportation of alcohol is only allowed if it is for export or if a manufacturer is taking it to storage or if it is alcohol that is used in industry. Otherwise, if it's liquor that you drink, you are not supposed to transport or distribute it," said Dlamini-Zuma.

Dlamini-Zuma said hotels could continue operating, but restrictions would be placed on locations of public gathering to curb the spread.

"Hotels are open and can be filled to capacity. But in indoor public places, they have to observe protocols, stay five meters apart and wear masks. This is because health has advised us that huge gatherings are a problem," Dlamini-Zuma said.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele said members of the South African Police Service would be available to enforce the lockdown level 3 restrictions and urged South Africans not to try to transport any alcohol they have already purchased.

"When it comes to alcohol, it cannot be sold anywhere, whether off or on [site]. There is no transportation of alcohol, meaning wherever alcohol is now, it stays there. There is no movement. No bottle or can of any alcohol in your boot, no transportation, no distribution, no carrying alcohol from next door to next door," said Cele.

Cele said any licensed establishment which was found attempting to sell liquor under the level 3 lockdown, they ran the risk of arrest as well as the loss of their liquor trading licence.

"Our eyes are very much open when it comes to the black market. Those who have the licence and permission to trade on alcohol, if they sell alcohol illegally during this time, those licences must be taken and they must be taken to prison," Cele said.

Cele said while the current level 3 lockdown would be reviewed after 14 days, this did not mean that the conditions of the lockdown would automatically be waived after the 14 days were up. He said the government would provide an update if any adjustments to the lockdown restrictions were made.

"It's not automatic that you will serve alcohol. It's not automatic that after two weeks you will be able to go to the beach. It is merely a reviewal. So, you will have to wait for the review and don't immediately say the ban is over in two weeks," he said.

Tutwa Consulting senior associate Azwimpheleli Langalanga said it was inevitable for bars, clubs, restaurants to be directly affected by the limitations because they have contributed to the spike, but that South Africa will have to consider financially cushioning that sector.

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