President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation last night regarding the lockdown, and the government’s plans to ease up restrictions once again to allow economic activities. In his address, he mentioned that from the end of May, some parts of the country will move down to level 3 while those with more infections stay at level 4.
Level 3 of the lockdown means South African citizens can purchase alcohol and tobacco products, and resellers are expected to adhere to the lockdown regulations.
Although this may be a relief to alcohol consumers and resellers, a group of independent liquor stores are concerned about the reopening of alcohol sales after 2 months of lockdown. In a proposal sent to the government, they warn that managing the initial surge of customers may require limits both on quantity.
According to the Liquor Trade Association, the opening of alcohol sales from Monday to Wednesdays from morning to noon is a disaster waiting to happen, as these hours will inevitably create a pressure-cooker situation where customers will stand in massive queues in the streets, and will boil over into frustration and even possible violence and looting when PM arrives and they have not even entered the premises yet.
To reduce congestion and the potential associated risks to employee and customer safety, the organisation suggests trading hours as follows: 09:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, and 09:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays.
The organisation has recommend limits, under Level 3, that would mean each customer could buy only a maximum per day of:
– 120 cans of beer, or 60 returnable bottles of beer
– 30 bottles of wine
– 5 boxed-wine boxes
– 5 bottles of spirits or liqueurs
Under the same proposal, people with surnames starting with A through M will be allowed into stores on Mondays and Wednesdays, while those with surnames starting with N through Z will be allowed to buy on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Therefore, on the 1st of June, alcohol sales could possibly exclude those whose surnames start with a N until Z.
“The idea is to get half of the population visiting some days, and the other half other days. We’re not sure this is totally practical of easily implementable, but we need something, we’re trying to assist government in managing the surge,” says association spokesperson Sean Robinson.