Ramaphosa mum on booze sales - but restaurants, bars hit with earlier closing times

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
PHOTO: GCIS

Liquor traders received a reprieve on Sunday night as President Cyril Ramaphosa did not announce fresh restrictions on the sale of liquor in anticipation of a third wave of Covid-19.

During an address to the nation, the president announced a shift to adjusted lockdown level 2 with effect from Monday. This was necessary due to a sharp rise in infections and hospitalisations in the past two weeks, Ramaphosa said. 

The new curfew will be 11pm – 4am, with tighter restrictions on "non-essential" businesses including restaurants, bars and fitness centres, which must close by 10pm in order to allow staff to get home in time.

Ramaphosa, did, however, call on businesses to help enforce Covid-19 protocols.

"Wearing a mask is mandatory," he stressed, adding that owners and managers of buildings, restaurants, buses and taxis have a responsibility to ensure customers and passengers wear masks and that social distancing is observed.

Scientists have advised government that the severity of the third wave "will be determined by how much contact we have with other people", he added.

Earlier in the week, SA liquor traders had again called on government not to introduce another alcohol sales ban, following the release of a report that outlined the growth of illicit trade in the sector.

The alcohol industry has, over the past year, vehemently opposed sales restrictions.

According to the report by Euromonitor International, the illicit alcohol market is valued at some R20 billion and has been growing at a compound annual rate of 17% since 2017.

Lucky Ntimane, convenor of the National Liquor Traders Council, described the growth of the illicit market as an "aggressive cancer", adding that the legal sector was losing ground to criminal networks under the lockdown sales bans.

On Sunday evening, Ntimane said the NLTC welcomed Ramaphosa's announcement and believed it was the "right decision".

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