As part of the Disaster Management Act, government has just introduced strict new measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
On Sunday, president Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster.
With immediate effect, all establishments - including bars, clubs, shebeens and restaurants - that sell liquor must close at 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays, the new regulations read. The establishments may only open at 09:00 the next morning. The same regulations apply to all liquor stores.
But on Thursday, police minister Bheki Cele said that restaurants will be permitted to remain open after 18:00 – if they don't sell alcohol and there are a maximum of 50 people on the premises.
All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, are not allowed to have more than 50 people at the same time - or must be closed with immediate effect.
These places must also all adhere to strict hygienic conditions.
Hotels that sell liquor must also implement measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
No special or events liquor licences will be granted during the duration of the national state of disaster.
One owner of a upscale bar in Tshwane told Fin24 that the consequences of the new regulations would be devastating for his venture. Business has already deteriorated over the past week and he fears that he may default on his rent this month.
A Cape Town restaurant operator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the new regulations discriminate against licensed restaurants by allowing unlicensed restaurants to trade without restrictions.
The article has been updated with Cele's comments.