Cele mum on whether liquor and tobacco bans will be lifted soon

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  • The Cabinet has been advised to lift the tobacco and alcohol sales ban and move the country to Level 2 of the lockdown. 
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele would not be drawn into commenting on the possibility of the bans being lifted.
  • Cele said there would be a Cabinet meeting on Saturday, and as police minister he would enforce whatever decision is taken.

Police Minister Bheki Cele would not be drawn into speculation over whether the lockdown levels would be lowered soon and the alcohol and tobacco ban lifted.

On Friday, Cele, who released the quarterly crime statistics, told the media he had no idea about the banning or unbanning of tobacco and liquor.

He said there would be a Cabinet briefing on Saturday and it would be presumptuous of him to comment on the matter beforehand.

The minister added his role was to enforce the decision once it had been made and he would wait to see what decision was taken.

Earlier this week, News24 reported the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet were advised to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol and move the country to Level 2 of the nationwide lockdown.

READ | Ramaphosa told to lift cigarette, alcohol ban and move to Level 2 lockdown - sources

Ramaphosa is said to have chaired meetings of the NCCC and Cabinet on Tuesday, where the overwhelming argument was in favour of fully reopening the economy.

This was reportedly because, recently, fewer confirmed daily Covid-19 cases had been reported.

Four sources told News24 the economic devastation of the cigarette sales ban could no longer be justified. The country has lost billions of rand in tax revenue as a result of it and the illegal selling of cigarettes has flourished.

The same argument was made for the reinstated alcohol ban that has been in place for the last month.

The discussion relating to the full reopening of the economy was first held on Sunday at an extended meeting of the Forum of South African Directors-General (Fosad).

Natjoints, which is co-chaired by the police and the defence department, was also part of that meeting, where they processed the latest reports related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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