The Democratic Alliance (DA) has warned that further restrictions on the sale of alcohol in coronavirus hotspots could have a serious impact on parts of the economy.
This comes after government’s National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) met on Tuesday to discuss localised lockdowns in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
The DA said that it is considering curbing the sale of alcohol from Monday to Thursday in so-called ‘hotspots’ as well as recommending that hospitality establishments such as restaurants and bars should stop serving food and alcohol by 21h00.
“These two recommendations will be devastating to our economy as well as thousands of restaurants across South Africa that have only begun to get back on their feet following a protracted lockdown.
“These are also not sustainable solutions going forward as businesses cannot factor in a ‘stop/start’ approach every time there is a wave of Covid-19,” said Dean Macpherson, who heads up Trade an Industry at the DA.
He said that the government should instead ensure that the current laws are enforced, including alcohol-related behaviour changes.
This is what SAPS and metro police should be doing on a daily basis however, government want to punish restaurants for its policing failures, he said.
The opposition party said that South Africans are also about to embark on December holidays and will inject much-needed money into local economies across the country.
“That is if they are assured they will still be able to enjoy themselves. If they are being forced to leave a restaurant at 21h00 or being told to be in bed by 22h00, they may very well reconsider spending their hard-earned money which would be devastating.
“While we are not unaware of the strain the healthcare system is under, this is entirely of the making of national government that has failed spectacularly since 26 March 2020 to build any meaningful healthcare capacity.
“If this capacity existed, as we were told was the reason for the initial lockdown, then we would not be having this conversation in the first place.”
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) has threatened legal action over the proposed restrictions, indicating that the government did not sufficiently consult with the sector.
RASA chief executive Wendy Alberts said that the country’s restaurants would be severely impacted by a lockdown as the country moves into the holiday season.
She said that the government has not consulted with the industry about its plans to reintroduce further restrictions.
“We are certainly going to challenge any restriction that has been placed on the restaurant industry.
“We want all restaurants to let us know if any authority has been in touch with them in the last month advising them that there is Covid-19 in their establishment.”