Tin Roof in Claremont. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA).
Tin Roof in Claremont. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA).

Tin Roof probed by WC Liquor Authority

By Chelsea Geach Time of article published Oct 17, 2020

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TIN Roof is one of 186 establishments that have been investigated for flouting lockdown liquor regulations - with 24 of those coming in since the start of Level 1.

The Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) is investigating Tin Roof after it was found to potentially be the site of a Covid-19 “superspreader” event, resulting in at least 89 people becoming infected with coronavirus and three being hospitalised within the past two weeks - most of them school pupils from Cape Town’s southern suburbs.

The Liquor Licencing Tribunal has so far sanctioned 19 liquor licences since the start of lockdown, with the Level 1 investigations - including that of Tin Roof - still pending.

At the weekly press conference hosted by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, the provincial Health Department’s Dr Melvin Moodley said that general practitioners in the southern suburbs raised the alarm after noticing an increase in Covid-19 cases in young people, which were all traced back to Tin Roof.

Of the 89 cases linked to the venue, 38 are matrics who are soon to start their final exams.

In total, 64 pupils and a teacher were infected in the southern sub-district of Cape Town. Three were hospitalised, and one has already been released.

The province’s head of health, Keith Cloete, said that not all of the 89 infected had been present at Tin Roof, and were identified through contact tracing.

“I just want to clarify that the way we identify the cases to a cluster is if someone was at the incident and the contacts of the people that were at the incident, it’s not just that 89 people were physically at the bar,” Cloete said in an interview this week.

Nightclubs are not allowed to operate during Level 1, but bars are allowed under certain social distancing restrictions.

Cayla Murray, spokesperson for Minister of Community Safety Albert Fritz, said that a nightclub could be identified by live entertainment, discos, loud music and dancing, among other things.

“Operating a nightclub contrary to the Disaster Management Act Regulations is currently a criminal offence under Alert Level 1. If no disco or entertainment is being offered, the premises is strictly speaking not operating as a nightclub, but as a bar. This is currently not prohibited.

“The fact that a nightclub owner conducts business without allowing entertainment during the current alert level, does not render his operations illegal. He would therefore still be able to allow sit-downs during which liquor is served and social distancing and safety protocols are observed.”

Murray said that the investigation of Tin Roof is currently with the Inspectorate of the Western Cape Liquor Authority.

“Should evidence be found that the licence holder might have transgressed the Western Cape Liquor Act or his licence conditions, the matter will be referred to the Liquor Licensing Tribunal. The Tribunal may, if found that there were indeed transgressions of the Act or license conditions, take action against the license holder.”

Tin Roof owner James Truter said that the venue is currently operating as a bar.

“Since we opened a month ago, we’ve been trading as a bar. There’s no dancing, no flashing lights, none of that kind of congregation is going on at our venue,” he said in an interview this week.

Truter said that Tin Roof is being blamed for the spread of infection, but in reality, all the young people who were at the bar on that night had already congregated at other parties and events before visiting the bar.

“A lot of the kids were at parties on that particular evening, were at Tin Roof that same night, so I think we are now being used as a scapegoat for all the events that have been going on over that same period.”

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