Hoteliers and people who make and sell alcohol celebrated tonight as South African president Cyril Ramaphosa eased the COVID-19 lockdown to level two as the number of cases slows down in the country that has borne the brunt of the continent’s cases.
From midnight on Monday South Africans will be able to visit the next province, drink,smoke, and sleep in a hotel bed.
“To say we are delighted by this news would be an understatement,”says Graham Wood the chief operating officer of hospitality of Sun International one of Africa’s biggest hospitality groups.
With interprovincial travel restrictions lifted our tourist hotels and resorts such as Sun City will finally be able to reopen. We will advise of Sun City’s re-opening date in due course.”
Wood felt that the government could have gone further in easing the restrictions that have shut down large parts of the economy since March.
“It is unfortunate that the curfew could not be further relaxed, but we are grateful and relieved that our restaurants can again serve alcohol. But lifting the onerous ban on alcohol will boost footfall to our properties,” he said.
Lucky Ntimane, Convener of the National Liquor Traders Council, said:“Our network of some 34 000 taverners across the country is ready to get back to business. We will continue to roll out innovations such as the “click-and-collect” apps to help reduce queues, improve social distancing, and make it safer for consumers to order and collect their purchases.”
President Ramaphosa said bars would only be allowed to operate if they practised sanitizing, social distancing and respected the 10 PM curfew. Bar owners say they will help meet the cost.
“The liquor industry confirmed it is willing to ensure enhanced resources, including funds, people and time, are available to assist the Government in dealing with the burden on the public healthcare system. It will also help ease the pressure on healthcare facilities and to assist with the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging our extensive distribution and retail networks nationwide in support of efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Kurt Moore, the CEO of the South African Liquor Brandowners Association
Yet the opposition Democratic Alliance thought the easing of the lockdown was too little, too late, for the economy.