Alcohol ban under review as government considers new proposals

As calls mount against the ban on alcohol sales, the Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) has said government is looking into a proposal which could see the sector operate again, as well the lifting of the evening curfew.


The alcohol and restaurant industry are just some of the sectors which have been hit hard as a result of the nationwide lockdown.


On Wednesday, 22 July 2020, the association over a memorandum to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, which is being considered.


This was during the industry's "Million Seats on the Streets" peaceful protests aimed at raising awareness on the struggles faced under the lockdown.


Wendy Alberts, CEO of the Association, said chief amongst their grievances was that government ease COVID-19 trade restrictions for the restaurant and hospitality industry, especially around serving alcohol and the 21:00 curfew.


Alberts said they expect an official response on Wednesday, 29 July 2020.


On the lifting of the alcohol ban, Alberts said:


"It is a proposed lifting of the liquor ban which triages areas. So, it's done through the local police station, you apply for a liquor permit to be a consumer"


On Sunday, 12 July 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government had made an about-turn on the sale of alcohol, announcing that it would be prohibited "with immediate effect"


He also imposed a curfew from 21:00 to 04:00, but said only those who would be working during that time would be allowed out of their homes.


"We want to tell president Ramaphosa of our hardships, how diversified and colourful our industry is, the broader impact in the country and what we need to save our restaurants", she added.

Alcohol ban: 800 000 jobs on the line


Alberts further said the industry is only open at around 20% capacity, and that with more than 800 000 jobs at risk, the situation was likely worse than it already is as many restaurants continue suffering major losses.


This comes as an alcohol coalition, comprising of industry organisations and groups, has launched its bid to protect the jobs in the sector. 


"There is no clear way forward for a lifting of the prohibition and as a result there has naturally been a significant, and increasing, rate at which jobs in the industry are being eroded and many other stakeholder livelihoods are being rapidly destroyed.  
This is a time for our industry and our communities to collaborate and rally together – we must protect jobs and livelihoods while we contain the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human life," the coalition said in a statement.


 According to the coalition, R19 billion has already been lost in revenues as a result of the previous suspension of alcohol sales.