Alcohol groups disappointed, EFF calls for defiance until mass vaccination

National Liquid Traders Council’s Lucky Ntimane said they were bitterly disappointed by the ban on alcohol trade for two weeks, calling it a hammer blow on tavern owners once again.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa giving his 27 June 2021 update on coronavirus. The president announced the country would be on adjusted alert level 4 from Monday for the next 14 days. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Restaurant and tavern owners are on Monday fuming over the stricter lockdown regulations.

While the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has called for active defiance, other political parties are blaming the president, and health experts said the tighter rules had come too late.

On Sunday night, the country moved to adjusted level 4 of the lockdown amid the third wave of COVID-19 infections, with more than 15,000 people having contracted the virus in the last 24-hour reporting cycle.

There is a complete ban on the sale of alcohol and sit downs at restaurants, while public and private schools must start closing their doors from Wednesday. People who can work from home must do so and no one will be allowed to travel in and out of Gauteng for leisure.

National Liquid Traders Council’s Lucky Ntimane said they were bitterly disappointed by the ban on alcohol trade for two weeks, calling it a hammer blow on tavern owners once again.

“A decision has been made, that will have dire consequences for our members without us being given an opportunity to propose alternative solutions. We will be deprived of an income without a financial safety net."

The South African Alcohol Policy Alliance, however, said the ban on offsite alcohol consumption was unnecessary.

The Restaurant Associations’ Wendy Alberts said they were never consulted and warned that more people now faced the prospect of losing their jobs.

“We gave government a year and more time to prepare this country. And we are again the industry detonated, it is absolutely shocking,” she said.

The South African Medical Association chairperson Angelique Coetzee said she was concerned about the enforcement of some of the regulations, especially around traveling.

“Interprovincial traveling, it's going to be very difficult to control that to make sure that it is for leisure. We noticed the curfew, as we know that 4 am in the mornings is extremely cold and the windows in taxis will not be open,” she said.

Meanwhile, political parties are blaming President Cyril Ramaphosa. They said he's punishing citizens for government's failure to roll out vaccines on time.

The DA said every COVID death and every job loss to the restrictions announced on Sunday night will be on Ramaphosa.

In a dangerous call, the EFF is calling on its supporters to defy new lockdown regulations, until there’s a vaccination plan for the whole country.

Wendy Alberts said the Restaurant Association wants to meet with government to discuss the implications of this stringent lockdown and try to discuss alternatives. Alberts said government failed to make any provision to cushion the financial losses in the restaurant sector.

“We are going to demand that we get consulted and that our doors get reopened so we can be able to trade,” she said.

At the same time the alcohol industry is also not happy about not being brought in for talks.

“Without us being given an opportunity to propose alternative solutions. This comes as a hammer blow to some of our struggling members, we appreciate the severity of the situation, and the needs to bring the third wave of COVID-19 under control,” Ntimande said.

Although takeaways or deliveries from restaurants are still allowed, many informal traders don't have the facilities or infrastructure needed to stay open.

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