With President Cyril Ramaphosa set to address the country tonight at 8pm on the country’s Covid-19 response, a lot of South Africans will be looking out for details on the resumption of alcohol sales, the reopening of beaches, and whether they will be allowed to gather for religious services.
The third ban on the sale of alcohol that kicked off in late December has been a contentious issue, with calls by liquor traders for the government to lift the ban due to the steady decrease in Covid-19 infections in the country.
Liquor Traders Association convenor, Lucky Ntimane, on Monday morning told The Citizen the industry expected to start trading again from Tuesday.
“The issue of alcohol being allowed has been agreed already. There was a follow-up meeting last week with the Natjoint [National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure]. Natjoint focused on the social compact between government and the industry. Yesterday [Sunday] there was a meeting with the premiers, so that meeting also had a resolve on that,” Ntimane said.
South African Breweries (SAB) has already lodged an application in Western Cape High Court to challenge the constitutionality of the ban while some liquor traders have had to retrench workers due to the loss of income.
The Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA) staged several sit-ins at the Union Buildings last month over the alcohol ban. The association called on Ramaphosa to intervene and lift the blanket ban on alcohol sales.
Closure of beaches
Another talking point to look out for in the president’s address will be the closure of beaches.
The government-gazetted regulations under the Disaster Management Act stated that all beaches in the Eastern Cape and Garden Route would be closed from 16 December 2020 to 3 January 2021. But in January, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma extended the national State of Disaster until 15 February.
This past weekend, a protest took place on Muizenberg Beach on Saturday morning. Scores of protesters defied government’s orders to keep beaches closed by occupying the Western Cape beach.
But the protest lasted just a few hours before it was dispersed by public order police members. A few stragglers were reported on Camps Bay Beach, but otherwise, there were no further incidents.
Places of worship
Another matter that is likely to feature tonight is the closure of places of worship. Several religious groups have called for government to allow religious gathering once more.
Last month, a group of pastors marched to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum to the Presidency, pleading with the president to allow churches to reopen under the amended level 3 lockdown regulations.
They have argued that churches are more than capable of adhering to health and safety measures, like enforcing the wearing of masks, hand sanitising and keeping physical distance between congregants.
The national curfew from 9pm until 5am will also be in the spotlight.
The RASA has called on Ramaphosa to lift the curfew due to concerns over the survival of struggling businesses in the tourism sector.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has also raised the alarm over the opening of night clubs, warning that people in overcrowded spaces tend to not adhere to the health and safety protocols when they are intoxicated.
Compiled by Thapelo Lekabe.