Rumours that alcohol sales are about to be banned once again later this week are not true, a government spokesperson confirmed to Food For Mzansi today.
This comes after rumours which circulated on social media caused queues of panic-buyers at liquor stores. After having been banned for two months as part of the economic lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, alcohol sales were reopened with limited business hours on 1 June.
Since liquor sales have reopened as part of the level three lockdown regime, an alcohol-related escalation in crime, accidents and other violent injuries have been reported in various provinces. This includes the Western Cape, currently the province worst hit by the covid-19 pandemic.
However, according to Mlungisi Mtshali, spokesperson at the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (CoGTA), a possible reinstatement of the ban on alcohol sales is currently not on the cards.
“I think people are trying to say that we should (reinstate the ban), but there is no discussion at the moment regarding that,” he said.
Some support for a new liquor ban
The presidency also denied the rumours. Spokesperson Khusela Diko told TimesLive that “no such calls have been tabled before the national coronavirus command council at this point.”
However, the Eastern Cape premier, Oscar Mabuyane, reportedly wants to lobby national government to reinstate the alcohol ban in his province, citing an escalation in alcohol-related crime and accidents since the alcohol ban was lifted as part of the gradual easing of economic lockdown measures.
The rumours of an imminent reinstatement of the ban that circulating on WhatsApp and Twitter caused some people to rush to liquor shops to stock up, just in case.
Government treating people like children, because apparently when it comes to alcohol people act like children. I went out today and stocked up another 2 months supply. I won’t drink it in a week, won’t drive, won’t fight. I enjoy a drink but it’s not a crutch nor an excuse.
— Trevor (@Durbsviking) June 8, 2020
Whichever bottle store owner started the “alcohol ban reinstated” rumour deserves marketer of the year.
— Dean Oelschig (@DeanOelsch) June 8, 2020
Just heard a rumour that liquor will be banned in WC from Wednesday again. So took a drive to Ultra Liquors Green Point. Obviously not the only one that heard the rumour. Q 50 deep and some. Turned right around home.
— Smally1953 (@smallsmith) June 8, 2020
Asked about the rumour that alcohol sales would be locked down again specifically in the Western Cape, dr. Willie Cilliers, chairperson of the AHi Western Cape, says the alcohol ban has cost the province dearly. The AHi Western Cape represents some 5000 small businesses in the province.
“For the economy I know a lot of bottle store owners and shebeen owners are the guys who really suffered because of the ban,” he said.
However, he emphasised that the full social effect of alcohol must be taken into account. “You must look at the health of our citizens and look at people losing their lives unnecessarily, if there are health risk because of alcohol, sales should not be permitted, especially because of the pressure on hospitals.”