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South Africa lifts fourth alcohol ban

President Cyril Ramaphosa has removed a fourth alcohol ban in South Africa as Covid-19 cases fall.

South Africa has put several alcohol bans in place since the start of the pandemic

The South African government introduced a ban on alcohol sales for 14 days at the end of June. The restriction was due to end on 12 July, but was extended for two more weeks as coronavirus cases continued to rise.

Trade groups had urged the removal of the alcohol ban over fears of a ‘total collapse of the industry’ and increased illicit trading.

In an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said: “The overall decline in new infections means that it is possible to gradually ease some of the restrictions on gatherings, movement and the sale of alcohol.”

As of yesterday evening (25 July), bars, taverns and restaurants are allowed to reopen, but with a 9pm curfew.

Retailers are also allowed to sell alcohol for off-site consumption between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. On-premise consumption is allowed until 8pm, in accordance with each venue’s licence conditions.

To support the alcohol industry during the pandemic, Ramaphosa added: “The payment of excise taxes by the alcohol sector will be deferred for a period of three months to ease the burden on the sector as it recovers.

“These interventions are designed to extend as much relief as possible to individuals and businesses that are in need of support, without compromising our fiscal sustainability.”

At the start of the pandemic, South Africa introduced a total ban on alcohol sales, which lasted from 27 March 2020 to 1 June 2020. The ban was brought back on 12 July 2020 but removed for a second time on 17 August. In mid-December, a third ban was put in place and lifted in February this year.

Earlier this year, The Spirits Business explored the impact South Africa’s multiple alcohol bans have had on the spirits sector.

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