Banning off-site alcohol consumption will not make significant difference - liquor traders
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Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa should have adjusted the curfew to arrest the spread of the coronavirus over the Easter weekend instead of banning off-site consumption.
These remarks were made by liquor traders who said they appreciated the opportunity to continue trading for on-site consumption but they did not believe the ban on off-site consumption will make a significant difference.
Chairperson of the Tshwane Tourism Association's Restaurants Charter Christian Maiorana and president of the Concerned Tshwane Liquor Traders Association Oupa Mthombeni said although they were grateful their sectors of business would not be disadvantaged, curfew should have been adjusted to keep people at home earlier.
They said, without being greedy and selfish, there was nothing stopping people from piling up on alcohol right now so they could consume their liquor off-site during the Easter weekend.
On the other hand, some people may just go to restaurants, pubs and taverns and drink and then go home, they said.
Maiorana said he actually thought the president would adjust the curfew so that people did not stay out late and end up as problems on the roads at night because that was what created the problems.
He said: "If you think about it, hospital beds are not filled by people who drink off site but those ones who drink beyond limits on-site and then drive or walk to their homes. This is one of the reasons I thought and expected the government to try and limit the number of people outside at night."
Mthombeni said by yesterday taverns had not begun seeing people trying to buy in bulk to drink in their homes between Friday and Monday when the sale for off-site consumption will be prohibited.
However, he said it was month end so anything is possible and people may as well fill up retail liquor outlets on Thursday because people love last minute things.
"I think this is where we must not be selfish and be grateful for the little that the government gives us to keep going, but also acknowledge that some tighter curfew restrictions would help."
However, the new restrictions are not so kind to all sectors in the alcohol industry because retail liquor outlets that only have trading licenses for off-site consumption will have to keep their doors shut and send their workers home over the Easter weekend.
Managing director of Tops at Spar in Lynnwood Lane and in Wapadrand Hendri van der Walt said their side of the industry does not think the government's measure make sense because the biggest culprits are on-site consumers of alcohol and not the people who want to drink peacefully in their homes.
"What can we do, they say life is unfair and this is one of those cases. I actually expected the government to ban on-site consumption and then reduce curfew and limit trading hours for us so that people can buy their liquor and drink in their homes while forced to observe social distancing."
Van der Walt said people flocked to their outlets to purchase in bulk yesterday ahead of Ramaphosa's address because they did not know what to expect and if any bans would be made immediately as he did in December when he took the country back to alert level one. He said they expect customers to rise on Thursday as people will be looking to stock up.
On the other hand, The Beer Association of South Africa slammed the government’s four day ban on off-site alcohol sales calling it unnecessary and heavy-handed as it threatened the livelihood of families employed by the industry.
However, some influential public figures like EFF leader Julius Malema were actually calling for the total ban of alcohol and seeing it as the biggest problem sabotaging the battle against the pandemic.
Malema said young people loved alcohol but no good was coming from it, while it made them do silly things like putting Savanna bottles on their heads while busy consuming another, in a trend the cider manufacture distanced itself from.