Coronavirus: Out drinking after cut-off time? Watch out, police have spotters out there

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Police Minister Bheki Cele says spotters will be at clubs, restaurants and pubs across the country amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

"As of today, we are appointing spotters. Those spotters will be in those places, especially those places that sell food and alcohol.

"At 18:00, selling and consumption of alcohol shuts down but places where there is food, it continues," Cele said at the media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.

READ | Coronavirus: 'I hope the virus doesn't kill more businesses than it kills people'  - Joburg bar owner

Together with Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola, Cele called the briefing to outline departmental measures to effectively implement Covid-19 disaster management regulations.

This comes after the government introduced new regulations on Wednesday to curb the further spread of the highly contagious virus which first emerged in Wuhan, China.

Measures in place

It was directed that police officers be provided with gloves, sanitisers and masks.

In addition, Cele appealed to people to visit their local police stations "only when it is necessary to do so".

"Members of the public visiting the police station will be required to co-operate with members on duty with respect to hygiene protocols i.e. You will sanitise. Limit walk-ins and only visit police stations when it is absolutely necessary," he said.

The minister provided clarity on alcohol consumption restrictions which kick in at 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays, and 13:00 on public holidays and Sundays.

READ | Restaurants can stay open after 18:00 but no alcohol sales allowed

"If you buy your bottle of alcohol at 17:55, you will have to take it home, you cannot finish it at the restaurant.

Arrests

"If you break these laws, police will be dispersed," Cele warned.

The minister also said that in instances where the police find a gathering that surpasses the 100-person restriction, mass arrests will not be implemented. Instead, "the owner or organiser will be arrested".

He said street bashes are not allowed and that restaurants must have a register for traceability.

The police have recorded 19 971 taverns, 11 000 bottle stores, just over 9 000 restaurants and over 2 000 clubs in the country.

According to the minister, the spotters come from various police units. It is not clear whether they will be identifiable or not.

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