Ramaphosa limits alcohol sales, reinstates longer curfew for festive season

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President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night. (Photo: Presidency).
President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday night. (Photo: Presidency).
  • Government is taking steps to limit alcohol consumption as the second wave of Covid-19 infections hits South Africa.
  • Curfew hours will be longer, with restaurants and bars having to close at 10pm over the festive period.
  • Alcohol sales from retail outlets will only be permitted between 10pm and 6pm from Monday to Thursday.


South Africans will have to change the way they celebrate over the festive period, as government has reinstated longer curfews to limit alcohol consumption in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Monday, where he unpacked a "differentiated" approach to responding to the second wave of Covid-19 infections hitting the country.

The number of new cases of infections has increased from an average of 3 800 per day to over 6 600 per day. The daily average of Covid-19 deaths, meanwhile, has increased by nearly 50% over the same period – from over 100 deaths per day to around 150 deaths per day, Ramaphosa explained.

Apart from closing certain beaches from 16 December to 3 January, enforcing fines to ensure compliance with safety protocol and putting a lid on large gatherings including religious events, government also wants to reduce irresponsible alcohol consumption.

Curfew hours will be longer – from 11pm to 4am. Restaurants and bars will have to close at 10pm, for staff and patrons to get home before curfew. "The curfew is meant to prevent gatherings that go on late into the night, while enabling restaurants, bars and taverns to continue to operate and earn an income," said Ramaphosa.

The curfew hours will also apply on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, he said. "'This means that we will all need to make changes to the way in which we celebrate these occasions."

Alcohol sales from retail outlets will also be limited – from between 10am and 6pm – from Monday to Thursday. This is in contrast to the ban on alcohol sales which was implemented in South Africa's initial hard lockdown, which drew widespread pushback from industry members over loss of income. 

Exception for wineries

Registered wineries and wine farms will be allowed to offer tastings and wine sales for off-site consumption over weekends. "This exception is being made due to the vital contribution of these establishments to the tourism sector in several parts of the country," Ramaphosa explained.

But alcohol consumption in public spaces will be "strictly forbidden", he said.

The festive season restrictions will also be reviewed in early January – based on the state of the pandemic across the country, he added.

These festive season restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the pandemic across the country.

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