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Liquor traders feel booze ban

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This was the time to try and recover some of their losses after the strict regulations, however liquor traders in the city are back to square one.

File image. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

LOCAL liquor traders indicated that they will not survive the new alcohol ban announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday night, as it came just when they seemed to be on the road to recovery.

This follows after many jobs were lost in the liquor industry due to the previous stringent lockdown regulations.

Local liquor traders feel this was their time for recovery as it is the peak period for alcohol sales.

A number of liquor traders, especially taverns and pubs, said they had taken out loans to stock up for the Christmas and New Year period.

“I went all out after months of suffering due to the hard lockdown. I even started hosting jazz sessions to win my clients back – a move that seemed to work,” a Galeshewe tavern owner said.

He added that competition was tough because he had to compete with a bottle store close to his business.

“The only advantage was that it (the bottle store) closed at 6pm, which gave me the chance to operate without fear as the bottle store prices were cheaper than mine.

“Now that alcohol is banned again there is a limited chance of survival for us because in January it will be dead.”

On Tuesday night patrons were seen rushing around with empty beer crates in the hope of stocking up as much alcohol as possible following the president’s announcement. They also feared rocketing prices.

South African Breweries (SAB) in Kimberley has also stopped all delivery of alcohol to its customers.

A source at SAB indicated that they already had large orders but had halted everything until further notice.

SAB could, however, not divulge whether more jobs would be lost due to the new alcohol ban, except to say that reps and field workers were notified on Tuesday night not to report for duty.

“The business will decide at a later stage as to where the identified workers stand,” said the source.

The Sol Plaatje Municipality did not elaborate on the new restrictions in regards to its pleasure resorts, where chalets have already been booked.

Residents who had made bookings prior to the president’s announcement now doubted whether they would be allowed access to the chalets with alcohol.

“Our position is in line with the president. No further comments (are necessary) as the restrictions are very clear,” said Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie.

Kgakatsi Bontsi, a front-line worker who has booked accommodation at one of the city’s resorts, said that she has “nothing to look forward to now” as she was expecting to relax with her family at the resort and enjoy her drinks after “pulling through” a very difficult period.

“I was looking forward to this family time, away from home where both my daughter and I survived testing positive for Covid-19. Now it seems like that is not to be for me. I might as well cancel my booking and spend New Year’s at home,” she said.

She conceded that the ban was triggered by the spike in Covid-19 infections and she blamed young people for their recklessness.

“Being on the front line made me see many disturbing and unfortunate instances like horrible alcohol-related accidents and reckless gatherings where our children even had to be dispersed with rubber bullets at parks after curfew hours,” Bontsi said.

“So, I don’t blame the president for taking such a drastic decision because the situation has turned dire.”