In the wake of the declaration of Covid-19 as a national disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa, and taking into account the increasing number of infected people in the country, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board said it fully supports drastic steps to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country.
“The President has also reminded South Africans that the most important public health principle is containment of the disease as far as possible, including avoiding social gatherings and minimising groups of people gathering in one space,” Eastern Cape Liquor Board chairperson Nontsikelelo Moleshe-Pakade said.
“Although at the time of issuing this statement there is no known/reported case of coronavirus in the Eastern Cape, we must accept that this is a global phenomenon and may come to our shores at any time. Henceforth, it is vitally crucial that we remain vigilant to offset any potential risk that might arise in our province,” Moleshe-Pakade said.
She added that it was encouraging to learn how people across the country were responding with energy and creativity to the challenge.
“There has been increasing concern that liquor outlets in the country may pose a serious risk of exacerbating this ferocious virus due to circumstances such as operating liquor outlets until late in the night, and allowing excessive numbers of patrons into a liquor outlet.
“This might present a potential public health due to reckless behaviour that some members of the public (patrons) may display as a result of being intoxicated,” Moleshe-Pakade said.
“In view of the high potential risks inherent in our liquor outlets, we profoundly commend the new regulations that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, has recently proclaimed (in line with Section 3 of the Disaster Management Act of 2002) in respect of the liquor establishments in the country.”
The new regulations essentially entail the following conditions:
- All establishments – including bars, clubs, shebeens and restaurants – that sell liquor must close at 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 1pm on Sundays and public holidays.
- All establishments must not open before 9am.
- The same regulations apply to all liquor stores.
- All on-consumption premises selling liquor, including taverns, restaurants and clubs, are not allowed to have more than 50 people at the same time – or must be closed with immediate effect.
- No special events liquor licences will be granted during the duration of the national state of disaster.
“We wish to extend our encouragement to liquor traders to strictly adhere to these new regulations and ensure that they place the highest premium on the safety of their patrons and the community they serve,” Moleshe-Pakade said.
“As the liquor authority, we shall take necessary steps to ensure that various liquor establishments observe these conditions in totality. Our liquor inspectors throughout the province will, in partnership with South African Police Service, on a regular basis, monitor the implementation of these regulations.”
She said that while acknowledging making money is crucial for liquor traders, it is equally imperative that they come to the realisation that the country is faced with an unusual phenomenon that threatens the health and safety of all people.
“We, therefore, as a nation must work in tandem in heightening our efforts to overcome the pandemic,” she said.
The Liquor Board further reminded all liquor traders to adhere to health measures as declared by National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, that seek to contain the spread of the Virus, which include:
- Providing hand sanitiser with 60% alcohol content.
- Frequently disinfecting counters and tables.
- Providing face masks for the patron attendants, ie, cashiers, security and cleaners.
- Keeping the number of the patrons below 100 as recommended by the State President when he was declaring the virus a national disaster.
“We do also seek to urge members of the community to take responsibility for their own health by restricting visits to the liquor outlets; rather to buy and consume alcohol in the safety of their homes. As we look to get over this uncertain period, it is vital that we all apply discipline and adhere to the government’s guidance of reducing social distance and adopting strict hygiene practices,” Moleshe-Pakade concluded.