SA: Booze is back after 66 day ban due to lockdown

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Alcoholic drinks will go on legal sale again in South Africa on Monday, after 66 days of prohibition.

There will be strict rules about buying booze under Alert Level 3, government ministers announced on Thursday, in a preview of regulations not yet published – but much less strict than originally envisaged.

Bars, taverns, and licensed restaurants will be able to sell booze too, on a takeaway basis, and hours of sale will be much longer than had once been planned.

All online sale of alcoholic drinks will also be allowed from Monday, with distributors allowed to start moving booze around in preparation from Friday.

Previously the transport of alcoholic drinks, even by manufacturers and distributors, had been strictly prohibited.

South Africans have been scrambling to order their booze for delivery from Monday – but with demand overwhelming retailers, those deliveries could take a while to arrive.

See also: Your online booze delivery could take more than 7 days, as distributors scramble to get ready

Here are the rules for buying booze from Monday, 1 June.

Bars and taverns – and restaurants – will act as bottle stores

Any place that had a licence to sell alcohol before lockdown – whether for off-premises consumption or at the premises – will be allowed to sell booze, the draft regulations say.

But there will be no on-premises consumption.

That effectively turns bars, restaurants (which had alcohol licences) and taverns into liquor stores.

All alcohol must be sold in sealed containers, and must be consumed at home, said trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel during a briefing on Thursday.

Patel confirmed that “taverns, registered shebeens, restaurants and so on” are covered under the regulations.

Further rules on how, exactly, they must manage sales, are still to come.

Booze will only be for sale up to Thursday – but now also in the afternoon.

The original plan had been to limit booze sales to mornings only, Monday to Wednesday. But that has been extended up to Thursday – and until 17:00 every day.

Weekend sales of booze, though, will remain explicitly prohibited.

‘E-commerce delivery’ has the same hours

Online sales of booze are allowed – but with e-commerce bundled in with bricks-and-mortar sales, the same limitation on hours apply. That means your booze delivery will have to be between 09:00 and 17:00 Monday to Thursday, or not at all.

Distributors can start moving booze around from Friday

The prohibition on any transportation of alcohol drops on Friday, 29 May, though sale becomes legal only on Monday, 1 June. That will give distributors time to get ready for what is expected to be something of a rush.