South African Government Clarifies Liquor Regulations

The ministries of Police and Tourism have, over the first weekend after the gazetting of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Regulations, identified and acknowledged the urgent need to simplify the interpretation and implementation of the said regulations.

In response to queries and the need for clarification from various industries and stakeholders, the engagement led by the two Ministers simplified the interpretation and implementation of the Regulations as follows:

Gathering (as defined in the COVID-19 Regulations)

No more than one hundred (100) people shall be allowed to gather at any point in time. Failure to adhere to this restriction can see police do the following:

–  order the immediate dispersal of the gathering;
–  take appropriate action against the organiser/host/manager which may result in a fine, an arrest or both.

Sale and Dispensing of Liquor

The public is advised that the sale of liquor is only permitted between 9am and 6pm on weekdays and Saturdays. On Sundays and Public Holidays, the hours are 9am to 1pm.

Restaurants, hotels and grocery stores with licences to sell liquor, must then stop selling liquor as per the time restrictions but may operate beyond those hours to sell and/or serve food with absolutely no liquor. The condition with staying open after the 6pm and 1pm deadline, is that the people on the premises must be 50 or less, including the staff.

Meanwhile, on-consumption establishments selling liquor only such as taverns may not continue doing business after the hours indicated above.

In the instance that these restrictions are contravened, members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and otherwise enforcement agencies will address the owner or manager of such premises by charging him with a criminal offence in terms of the Regulations.

The Ministers have also cautioned the public to note that drinking in public is a criminal offence. Police have been instructed to take decisive action against this practice, including activities such as “street bashes”.

Both Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, and the Minister of Tourism Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane have appealed to the public for maximum commitment and cooperation in adhering to the Regulations in the best interest of both themselves and the country at large.

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