Are you ready for Cyril Ramaphosa to drop that ‘fellow South Africans’ line? South Africa is poised to see its lockdown restrictions substantially eased over the weekend, with a move to Level 2 now looking likely.
The alcohol ban is said to be amongst the biggest changes, as booze will (apparently) make a return to the shelves.
However, life in this ‘new normal’ is anything but familiar. Things won’t just go back to how they were before lockdown. In fact, buying ale will only be allowed under a series of strict measures. Allow us to explain.
We know that booze will be limited in terms of what days it will be allowed to go on sale. Similar to what we saw in June, the alcohol ban is only going to be partially lifted during Level 2. There is now talk that liquor stores may be allowed to open for just three days a week, in a bid to curb ‘impulse drinking’.
Operating hours are also likely to be reduced, with no liquor retails allowed to stay open late into the evening. For those of you planning to suip when the good stuff is back on the shelves, you’ll have to plan your sessions in advance. We also expect to see limitations on when alcohol can legally be ‘transported’.
President Ramaphosa claims to be guided by science. Therefore, we can expect Cyril to give serious consideration to the guidelines set out by the Medical Research Council back in July: The SAMRC put several measures up for review, as they gave our head of state the green light to allow alcohol sales again:
The size of alcohol containers – such as 500ml beer bottles and 750ml bottles of wine – might be reduced.
Quantitative limits on how much alcohol one person can buy could be introduced at Level 2.
An increase in police roadblocks for drink-driving has been suggested, as has a ‘zero-tolerance policy’ for all motorists.
The SAMRC also wants to make alcohol-related trauma a “notifiable condition” through clinical assessments.
Meanwhile, Cosatu has also made a number of suggestions. They would like to see strict restrictions on how much alcohol can be purchased at a sit-down venue, and also proposed that retailers refuse to serve ‘younger citizens or pregnant women’. The union outlined its strategy for Level 2 earlier this week.
Whatever happens, it’s almost nailed on that the alcohol ban will be lifted in one way or another in the coming days. The president has a crunch meeting with Provincial Premiers on Saturday to finalise these plans, and we’re expecting a significant address to the nation at some point this weekend. The tension is palpable.
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