Not for sale.
  • South Africa's liquor makers are lobbying the government to open up the sale of booze during an extended lockdown – including at taverns.
  • But while they believe taverns should be able to sell alcohol, to stop people travelling too far, it should be only for takeaway consumption, they say.
  • Their plan includes restricting the hours of sale – but no so much as to cause crowding – and banning promotions that encourage people to buy more booze.
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The South African government should allow the sale of alcohol to resume during the extension of the national lockdown, South Africa's booze makers say – including at taverns, to keep things as local as possible.

But there should be strict rules, including that all drinks must be sold only on a takeaway basis.

"To ensure that consumers do not travel unnecessarily we recommend that licensed taverns and holders of micro-manufacturing licences should be granted a special dispensation to operate strictly as off-consumption outlets subject to the strict social distancing requirements," the industry bodies wrote in a letter to government this week.

See also: ‘Essential accessories’ for babies and toddlers up to 3 are slowly going on sale again

Under their proposal, bottle stores and taverns (newly made takeaway-only) would operate between 9AM and 6PM on weekdays, up to 4PM on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays and public holidays, such as the upcoming Freedom Day.

"It is our view that a compression of trading hours encourages crowding which puts social distancing at risk," they said.

In another restriction, the bodies recommend that all promotions intended to get people to buy more booze be banned, such as "buy two get one free" deals.

"On the basis of substantial risk to social distancing requirements" they support a continued ban on bars where drinks are consumed on-premises, the industry bodies said.

See also: Hundreds of SA doctors and nurses may soon get a TB vaccine to see if it helps against Covid-19

The letter was written before President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced an extension of South Africa's lockdown – during which the sale and transport of alcoholic beverages is strictly prohibited – to May.

"Most of the existing lockdown measures will remain in force until the end of April," Ramaphosa told the nation, without elaborating on what changes there may be to a minority of regulations.

"Restrictions considered for an extended lockdown period should balance both their impact on effectively mitigating health risks and preserving the stability of the legal liquor industry," the alcohol producers told the government in their letter.

Various industries this week scrambled to poll members and make submissions on reduced restrictions ahead of the announcement of the lockdown extension.

Lawyers were asked for recommendations on how the justice system can be best kept functioning, and manufacturers were asked what would happen if a lockdown were to extend as far as 30 May.

See also: Some industries are scrambling to see what a lockdown extension until May would mean

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