President Cyril Ramaphosa has declined the request of the Gauteng Liquor Forum on behalf of its members to sell alcohol during coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown in the country.

The president directed liquor sellers to seek economic relief through programs offered by government.

The Presidency further noted that the Gauteng Liquor Forum’s position is not shared by all industry stakeholders; and that a number of other organizations in the liquor industry have rejected the call for the restrictions to be lifted

The Gauteng Liquor Forum had earlier demanded that the President should lift the total ban on alcohol sales during the lockdown. You could recall Gauteng Liquor Forum had threatened court action if this does not happen, according to them ban is unreasonable and unconstitutional.

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The Presidency has declined the request of the Gauteng Liquor Forum for its members to sell alcohol during the declared national disaster.

The restriction on the sale of Liquor will remain.

The decision was communicated to the Forum’s attorneys on 17 April 2020 via the offices of the State Attorney.

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The President and government as a whole remain committed to financially supporting businesses in distress during this period.

The President carefully considered the representations made by the Gauteng Liquor Forum.

These however have had to be weighed up against the imperative of all South African businesses and citizens to comply with the lockdown regulations, the health implications of consumption of
alcohol and the priority to ensure social distancing during this principle. As such is not considered an essential good or item. It is infact considered a hindrance to the fight against the coronavirus.

The President furthermore considered representations of alcohol from other stakeholders who have pointed to the causal relationship between alcohol intoxication and abuse, and risky behavior.

There are proven links between the sale and consumption of alcohol and violent crime, motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies at a time when all private and public resources should be preparing to receive and treat vast number of COVID 19 patients.

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The President has further noted that Gauteng Liquor Forum’s position is not shared by all industry stakeholders and that a number of other organization in the liquor industry have rejected the call for the restriction to be lifted.

In response to concerns raised by the Gauteng Liquor Forum that small business in the liquor trade may suffer financial loss during this period, The Presidency has once again drawn the Forum’s attention to the assistance provided by the Tourism Relief Fund, the Department of Small Business Development, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and private endeavors such as the South African Future Trust amongst others. These funds and institutions provide capped grant assistance to small, micro and medium enterprises, to ensure sustainability during this period, as well as support to employees of these enterprises.

It is common cause that the containment of the coronavirus has resulted in financial strain for many businesses across all sectors and not just those in the liquor industry.