The SA liquor trade: showing serious signs of the coronavirus
24 March 2020  | Neo Madlala | Views: 552
In the few weeks subsequent to South Africa recording its first case of COVID-19), it has caused havoc in our daily lives and altered the psyche of our nation. The virus has now been declared a pandemic by The World Health Organisation.

In an effort to fight the spread of the virus, Government has taken drastic measures with the president declaring a National State of Disaster and regulations being passed under the Disaster Management Act, which carry significant implications for various sectors and in particular, the food and beverage industry.

I would be remiss as you personal Liquor License advisor not to inform you on the operations of these regulations.

In a nutshell, the operations of all liquor outlets will be impacted in terms of trading hours and the number of customers allowed within the premises at any given time. The regulations have brought about the following changes to all liquor outlet operations:

The sale of liquor at any outlet is only permitted from 09:00 – 18:00 on Monday to Saturday and the times are restricted on Sundays and Public Holidays to between 09:00 – 13:00. Restaurants or your local ShisaNyama will be allowed to operate beyond these trading hours but they are then prohibited from selling liquor. They may however still provide customers with food and any other beverage besides liquor. These new trading hours have literally rendered night clubs inoperable.

Not only have the trading hours been restricted but outlets such as restaurants, taverns or clubs are not permitted to have more than 50 people on the premises at any given time. Liquor stores and your favourite winery are not allowed to have more than 100 customers in the store at any given time during operational hours.

Also forget about hosting an event which requires a special liquor license because no applications for special or event liquor licenses will be entertained during this period.

It is quite telling that hotels, guesthouses and the likes were not grouped with the other liquor outlets. The obligation on these establishments is to ensure that they enforce preventative measures that halt the spread of the virus. These establishments still fall under what we call “on-consumption” outlets and will be subject to the same standards as restaurants, which means that they cannot sell liquor outside of the prescribed times.

Owners who fail to comply with these regulations, if convicted, could face up to six months in prison, alternatively pay a fine or be ordered to spend some time in prison coupled with a fine. This also applies to any individual who impedes an enforcement officer from doing his/her duty of dispersing a gathering that has more than the prescribed individuals in one space.

To understand this limitation on liquor trading, it is in short based on the transmissibility of the virus. When people are congregated and are consuming liquor, they tend to be overly sociable, very touchy and their mentally faculties tare often diminished to a degree which could cause reckless behaviour.

We all need to play our part in fighting this virus - even if it means not being able to frequent our favourite liquor outlets for this period. Owners are reminded that compliance to the spacing and hygiene standards at all times, is vital.