In the wake of the declaration of Covid-19 as a national disaster by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and taking into account the increasing number of infected people in the country, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board fully supports the clarion call to embark on serious and drastic steps to prevent the rapid spread of Corona Virus 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. Although at the time of issuing this statement there is no known/reported case of Corona Virus 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. It is however, heartening to learn that across the country, people are responding with amazing energy and creativity to the challenge that we face.
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. 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, which we urge all our liquor establishments in the Eastern Cape to adhere to:
• All establishments – including bars, clubs, shebeens and restaurants – that sell liquor must close at 18:00 on weekdays and Saturdays, and at 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays.
• All the establishments must open at 09:00.
• 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. 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. We further wish to unambiguously point out that while making money is crucial for our 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 the entire humankind. We, therefore, as a nation must work in tandem in heightening our efforts to overcome the Pandemic.
During the operating times as prescribed in the new regulations, we wish to further remind all liquor traders to adhere to health measures as declared by the National Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, that seek to contain the spread of the Virus, which include:
• Providing hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content,
• Frequently disinfect counters and tables lastly,
• Face masks for the patron attendant i.e. cashiers, security and the cleaners.
• Keep the number of the patrons below 100 as recommended by the State President when he was declaring the virus as 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.
Issued by the Eastern Cape Liquor Board Chairperson: Ms Nontsikelelo Moleshe-Pakade