COVID-19 Q&A: Trading, serving and transporting liquor

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Article

According to the Disaster Management Act Regulation 8 , the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages are prohibited during certain times.

According to the Disaster Management Act Regulation 8 , the sale, dispensing or transportation of alcoholic beverages are prohibited during certain times.

Q: What are the practical implications for on-consumption and off-consumption establishments and transport of wines?

According to a briefing from RASA (Restaurant Association of South Africa) following further consultation with Government on 19 March 2020, and a joint statement by the Ministers of Police & Tourism on 21 March 2020, the following restrictions are in effect:

Restaurants, hotels and grocery stores with licences to sell liquor can continue their normal operating hours, provided they are selling food, doing deliveries or take-outs. However, they are only permitted to sell or serve liquor from 09:00 to 18:00 from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 09:00 to 13:00 on Sundays and public holidays.

Please note: As Saturday, 21 March 2020 is a public holiday, alcohol may only be sold or served between 09:00 and 13:00 on this specific day. For all other Saturdays, the 09:00 to 18:00 trading/serving hours will apply.

No bulk sales will be permitted just before the above-mentioned times, and no guests or patrons will be allowed to bring their own wine to such establishments to consume after 18:00 or 13:00. The regulations are implemented not only to curb sales, but with the explicit intent to limit the consumption of alcohol in public places after these hours, regardless of whether the alcohol was bought before this time.

At any one point in time there may be no more than 50 people, including guests and staff, in establishments selling or serving liquor.

On-consumption establishments selling liquor only such as taverns may not continue doing business after the hours indicated above.

In the instance that these restrictions are contravened, members of the SAPS and otherwise enforcement agencies will address the owner or manager of such premises by charging him with a criminal offence in terms of the Regulations.

The issue of the transport and delivery of wine is also still unclear and will be updated here as soon as legal clarification has been received.

Q: What effect would these new regulations have on local wine sales?

Although there is a clear understanding of the reason why this regulation has been implemented, it will have an enormous impact on the wine industry.

South Africa’s local wine sales declined by 6% in the year ending December 2019, and a further decline will have an adverse effect on profit margins throughout the wine value-chain.

Wineries are responding to these regulations quickly by driving their online sales offering, and encouraging consumers to support their favourite wine brands by ordering wine to be delivered to their doorstep.

While it’s believed that loyal customers will follow this route not to miss out on their favourite brands, the limitation on trading hours for wine will inadvertently result in a drop in wine sales.

Also, in terms of consumption patterns it is expected that consumers will opt for discounts and while it is hoped that sales volumes will be maintained at the very least, it may pose a challenge for producers to grow value during this time.

Q: Any concerns with regard to the policing of these regulations?

South Africa has around 65 000 licensed liquor outlets and more than 100 000 unlicensed outlets. Over the next few days, the liquor industry will be in discussion with the relevant authorities surrounding the details of the latest regulations regarding the trading, serving and transport of alcohol. During these meetings the industry will emphasise the importance of proper policing to ensure that all relevant entities adhere to the regulations.

Regardless of concerns regarding policing, the law must be upheld and Vinpro calls on all wineries and establishments selling wine to strictly adhere to these regulations.

ENQUIRIES:

RASA: Use the whatsapp line: 083 661 9000.

Vinpro: Email info@vinpro.co.za

Brigadier Mathapelo Peters
Acting Spokesperson for the Ministry of Police
076 065 6502

Hlengiwe Nhlabathi
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Tourism
064 754 8426

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