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Open up takeaway alcohol sales, liquor body asks Ramaphosa ahead of national address

The Liquor Traders Association has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking him to lift some of the restrictions, which have left their industry 'on its knees'.

11 July 2021 - 16:08 By TimesLIVE
The National Liquor Traders has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow takeaway alcohol sales when new Covid-19 regulations are released.
The National Liquor Traders has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow takeaway alcohol sales when new Covid-19 regulations are released.
Image: 123RF/Vladislavs Gorniks

The National Liquor Traders has asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow takeaway alcohol sales when new Covid-19 regulations are released.

Ramaphosa will address the nation on Sunday, two weeks after he announced the introduction of lockdown level 4 restrictions. As part of those new regulations, the sale of alcohol was completely banned.

But the organisation's convener, Lucky Ntimane, in a letter to Ramaphosa, has requested that tavern and shebeen permit holders be allowed to sell alcohol “on a takeaway basis” seven days a week, from 10am to 6pm. He also asked that bottle stores be allowed to sell alcohol for off-premises consumption from Monday to Friday, from 10am to 6pm.

These proposals, he said, had merit because they had been in place under other lockdown levels.

“As an industry, we are on our knees,” Ntimane wrote. “We have suffered many months over the last year when our members could not earn their own living.”

The association largely represents township-based taverns, shebeen permit holders and bottle stores.

Ntimane's letter states that their members employ “well over 282,000 workers” at the 39,900 liquor outlets under their umbrella.

“Our businesses are in the main, black-owned and key local employers and economic contributors to the township economy and the country at large. The tavern sector is worth over R60bn annually, accounting for 80% to 90% of liquor sales in townships, and about 43% of total alcohol sales.

“We are law-abiding liquor traders, licensed to sell liquor products that are regulated, and which do not contain illicit substances or ingredients that may be unfit for human consumption, such as those sold by the illicit trade,” said Ntimane.

He said that the ban on alcohol sales “is not a solution to combating the spread of the virus but rather a guaranteed tool to fast track our members into poverty”.

“There is no doubt that as a country, one of the most important lessons that we have learnt from our past experiences of dealing with the pandemic is that we can still fight Covid-19 with a less negative impact on our economy. In our case, liquor traders, can continue to operate, subject to fully complying with safe operating standards, in a way that was not always possible previously.

“We wish to assure you that as liquor traders, we will continue to play our part in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in the liquor trade and in the communities in which we operate,” the letter states.

Apart from the request to allow alcohol sales again, the association has also asked Ramaphosa for financial assistance. Their requests included:

  • a R20,000 one-off payment to taverns and shebeen permit holders on the basis that the TERS programme excludes their sector; and
  • a 2-year moratorium on liquor licence renewals as they are unable “to afford these given that we have lost more than 150 trading days as a result of the bans we have been subjected to”.

TimesLIVE


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