Police are deploying spotters at restaurants, bars to enforce 6pm drinking ban

Owners and organisers face being jailed for up to six months if caught out.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has appointed spotters to be placed at liquor selling outlets to ensure they abide by the new trading times imposed by government this week.

In an attempt to combat the spread of the Covid-19 virus, places that sell liquor, including bottle stores, taverns, pubs and restaurants, must stop selling liquor from 6pm on weekdays and 1pm on weekends and public holidays.

No more than 50 people can be gathered at these liquor-selling outlets. Should this be violated, owners and organisers could be jailed for up to six months.

This was outlined in the new regulations that were gazetted earlier this week, which listed a number of directives to combat the global pandemic since it was declared a national state of emergency by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

But the SAPS will keep a close eye on 19,971 taverns, 11,000 bottle stores, 9,747 restaurants and 2,518 night clubs, Cele said.

Speaking at a media briefing with Cele was Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola in Pretoria. Cele said police would be clamping down on those who violate the new regulations.

“As from [today], as SAPS, we are appointing spotters. Those spotters will be in these places, especially places that sell both alcohol and food … At 6pm [and 1pm on weekends], the selling of alcohol shuts down. But in places where food is sold, food selling continues after. If you buy a bottle of alcohol at 5:55pm, you have to take it home. You can’t finish it where you are seated.

“We will have these spotters and will make sure that if you break those laws, police will disperse the people there if they are more than 50 and we will take detention of the owner or organiser of the event,” Cele said.

The spreading of fake news related to the Covid-19 outbreak could also be prosecuted. Cele said they had the means to trace such false information.

“It might take some time but police have the capacity of chasing fake news. We do have the units in SAPS that can trace the origin of the fake news and how far it spreads. If it is declared as fake news, we will check that and trace it … With other agencies in the security cluster, we have the capacity to check on these things.”

Lamola said his department was ensuring all correctional services centres and the courts were disinfected several times a day. Visits to all correctional service facilities were suspended for 30 days, and this included visits to holdings cells at police stations.

He said four correctional services officials who had travelled recently were currently in isolation.

“We are looking at officials who travelled outside the country. Four officials from KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been isolated as precaution after displaying presumptuous symptoms.”

“The department of correctional services has not reported any positive cases of Covid-10 across all centres in the country. We will continue to take preventative measures that are aimed at combating the spread of the virus.”

– rorisangk@citizen.co.za

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