Liquor stores expecting bottlenecks ahead of booze ban

Not only will the sale of alcohol be prohibited during the lockdown but transporting it in your car could land you in jail.
Not only will the sale of alcohol be prohibited during the lockdown but transporting it in your car could land you in jail.
Image: 123RF/Vladislavs Gorniks

The panic buying that has engulfed the country since the announcement of the national lockdown is about to turn alcoholic.

Scores of people are expected to flock to their nearest liquor outlets as soon as they open on Thursday.

This comes after police minister Bheki Cele announced on Wednesday that all supermarkets and all liquor stores would be banned from selling booze once the 21-day lockdowns kicks-in on Thursday night, as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Cele also said the movement of alcohol by transport, including in private cars, would not be allowed.

This means people would be arrested if found in possession of alcohol in their cars.

An inter-ministerial press briefing was held in Pretoria to address key points around the #SAlockdown on March 25 2020. Ministers from the social, economic, security and governance clusters addressed key points around the Covid-19 pandemic and #SALockdown. Some of the points raised were about movement, public transport and the prohibiting of alcohol during the 21-day lockdown.

He said that in terms of the regulations, this would be a criminal offence punishable by law, including a fine or imprisonment.

“The Disaster [Management] Act says that the movement of alcohol can be restricted, therefore there shall be no movement of liquor from point A to point B. If we find liquor in your car boot, that is illegal and it is crime. This means what you have at your home, you consume it there at your home. There shall be no movement.

“Not having alcohol will make people not to cause accident and will make people not to stab and shoot one another,” he said.

Minister of health Zweli Mkhize further explained the necessity of banning alcohol during the lockdown. He said that alcohol fuelled behaviour that was at odds with the government's measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

This behaviour, he said, included braais, where people consume liquor before losing control of their actions.

“In the past week there was a limitation in the sale of alcohol, but now there is a prohibition. The real reason behind it is the concern we have that people will think that the lockdown is going to sort out the virus. We are worried that behaviour might not change [if the sale of alcohol is permitted]," said Mkhize.

“The real risk we want to outline when people are indoor and congregate in large numbers and organise lots of alcohol, the behaviour predisposes for a lot of people to be infected.” 

The tough-talking Cele also announced no-go areas for everyone who does not want to find themselves on the wrong side of the men and women in blue.

“Even if you are the owner of any of the places ordered to close, you will also be dealt with. This will include restaurants, which are prohibited from opening their doors,” he said.

“When you are hungry, just go to the supermarket, buy food and cook at home. Should you be found eating at a restaurant, you are likely to finish that meal in a police holding cell.

“Buy food and cook at home, so that there is no need to move around.”

These are the places that will remain closed:

  • shopping malls;
  • cinemas;
  • sport fields;
  • churches;
  • train stations;
  • taxi ranks — except if they are transporting those classified as working in “essential services”;
  • flea markets;
  • night clubs;
  • casinos and hotels — “except to the extent that they are required to remain open because they have tourists who will be confined to that space”;
  • game reserves; and
  • holiday resorts.

Anyone found at these no-go areas at any point during the lockdown will get arrested, with the possibility of a fine or six months in jail.


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