The SA Liquor Brand Owners Association has approved government’s decision to keep the liquor industry open under the level 3 lockdown.

Last night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that retail alcohol sales would only be allowed between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday.

Onsite consumption of alcohol at places like restaurants will be allowed until 9pm.

Alert Level 3:

SA Liquor Brand Owners Association chairman  Sibani Mngadi says there’s an urgent need for the government to explain why the sale of alcohol is banned over the weekend.

“There’s an urgent need for government to explain the rationale behind restricting retail alcohol sales over the weekend. We do believe that this approach undermines the interest of hardworking people who have no opportunity to purchase during the working days and it is the arbitrary decision that really does not serve the interest of the lower-income group.”

Curfew and other restrictions

President Ramaphosa announced that the country will move to level three of the national lockdown from midnight last night. He says this will see changes to the curfew, which will now start from 10pm and end at 4am.

The President addressed the nation from Pretoria last night.

Following a meeting with the National Coronavirus Command Council meeting, President Ramaphosa says there has to be drastic changes in how South Africans behave in the midst of the third wave of COVID-19 infections. He further says indoor gatherings will be limited to 50 people and those outdoor to 100 people.

“The cabinet has therefore decided to move the country to alert level three – this will take effect later this evening, once the regulations have been gazetted. This means that one; the hours of curfew will stay at 10pm and end at 4am. Second, non-essential establishments like restaurant bars and fitness centres will need to close by 9pm to allow their employees to travel home before the start of the curfew,” says the President.

President Ramaphosa also spoke about the changes when it comes to gatherings in the country.

“All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 50 people and 100 people outdoors. Where the venue is too small to accommodate all these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 percent of the capacity of the venue may be used. This includes religious services and political gatherings as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places.”

President Ramaphosa has expressed concern about the rate of coronavirus infections in many parts of the country – especially in Gauteng. This province accounts for two-thirds of new infections. Ramaphosa says the country has yet another mountain to climb, especially on the vaccination drive which has been with a number of challenges.

“We know that as difficult as it has been for the last 15 months, we have started to recover and rebuild. Though it has encountered several setbacks, our mass vaccination program is gaining momentum. And we are finally on the path of controlling the disease. But although we have reason to hope, we still have a mountain to climb, a third wave of infections is upon us.”

The President added that the June 16 celebrations taking place in KwaZulu-Natal will be a hybrid event, with an address he will deliver virtually later in the day. – additional reporting by Abongile Dumako