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De Lille relaxes curbs on drinking

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says parts of the city's liquor by-law will be relaxed.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says parts of the city's liquor by-law will be relaxed.

Published Feb 29, 2012


Tipplers may be tempted to raise a glass to mayor Patricia de Lille on Wednesday after her announcement that parts of Cape Town’s liquor by-law will be relaxed.

De Lille told the council that “inconsistencies” in the by-law would be fixed. This would include lifting the ban on Champagne breakfasts and relaxing curbs on wine tastings.

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Nightclubs and other establishments can also apply to sell alcohol after 2am, which is currently prohibited across the board.

For “off-consumption” premises such as liquor stores and supermarkets, the 9am to 6pm trading rules remain.

In her speech to the council Wednesday morning, De Lille proposed several amendments to the by-law, which came into effect on January 1 last year after fierce criticism from the hospitality industry.

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It effectively banned Champagne breakfasts, making it illegal to serve alcohol before 11am. A later amendment condoned this if the alcohol was free.

De Lille said it was vital for arms of government to review whether legislation was working.

“This version fixes many irregularities and inconsistencies. It allows for Champagne breakfasts. It allows for wine tasting. It allows for a range of activities that were unnecessarily excluded in the past version.”

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Another big change in the by-law was the clearer distinction between the sale and consumption of alcohol. It will remain illegal to sell alcohol after 2am, but exceptions will be considered.

“This by-law… realises that some areas are recognised social spots with minimal disruptive potential and thus allows for trading beyond prescribed hours upon application and under prescribed conditions,” said De Lille.

The amended by-law took into consideration city establishments working hard to brand Cape Town as a “24-hour city”.

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De Lille said the city had to balance the rights of residents, businesses, social pressures and the responsibility it had as the local government.

“No issue represents the dramatic collision of these powerful forces coming together more than the consumption of alcohol.”

However, legislation remained vital when dealing with the consequences of widespread alcohol abuse.

De Lille said drinking alcohol was an “individual choice”, and the city had no authority to intervene in residents’ personal lives if they posed no threat.

“However, it does have the responsibility to intervene where there is harm and, where reasonable, put measures in place to limit the potential for that harm.

“As such, I do not believe that we should be under any illusions about the harm that alcohol abuse causes in our society.”

She pointed to statistics in support of her statements. Half of the victims of all transport-related deaths had raised alcohol levels.

There was also a clear link between alcohol and violent deaths, and 43 percent of firearm deaths were related to alcohol.

Alcohol also played a role in 54 percent of assaults with a blunt object.

To this end, the amended by-law would still regularise the sale of alcohol.

“It will allow for enforceability where there are social disruptions and it will allow for a degree of preventing the kind of excess that allows for abuse.”

De Lille believed the amendments would strike a balance between fairness and the need to enforce the law.

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