Liquor traders slammed for not being Covid-19 compliant
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Affairs Ravi Pillay has raised concerns over Covid19 non-compliance among liquor traders and gambling outlets as the third wave looms.
Pillay led an unannounced inspection at various outlets in the Durban CBD to enforce Covid-19 regulations. The blitz inspection which included inspectors from the department, SAPS, metro police, departments of Home Affairs and Labour, KZN Liquor Authority, Gaming and Betting Board led to arrests and closure of several establishments.
The team inspected most taverns and lounges in the South Beach and Point Waterfront areas, where some were found overcrowded, with poor ventilation.
Pillay, who was part of the team until the late hours, said he wanted to get first-hand experience so he could contribute to the decision making.
This was while the government was considering stricter lockdown measures to prevent superspreader events over the Easter weekend, which could trigger the third wave.
Pillay said although most places possessed trading and gambling permits, he was concerned about poor ventilation and overcrowding in some establishments during the raid.
“Many of those operating under restaurants licence are nightclubs if you look at the music and conduct of the people, nightclubs are not allowed at this stage. We needed to take steps on that and enforce it.
“The biggest concern is the lack of effective social distancing and poor ventilation. When you get inside, some of these areas you can feel that there is no ventilation,” Pillay said.
He said the government was reluctant to lockdown or move to stricter lockdown levels as a balancing act between saving lives and saving livelihoods, but warned that reckless conduct could see the country moving to level 2.
“If you look at the recent statistics, there is a steady increase, so we should have learnt our lessons by now because we went through many phases since March last year.
“We are still under threat until the vaccination programme has reached the critical mass. Of course, it is not just a matter of lives but also economic development. Many people are employed there so we have to protect those jobs, we need to strike the balance.”
Tsepiso Selepe of the Consumer Protection Unit said through their inspection, several places had to be closed.
“We had to arrest some owners who operated night clubs which are currently prohibited. There were also illegal foreign nationals operating without licences, who were arrested,” said Selepe
Inspections were expected to continue across the province.