11:27 GMT27 February 2021
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    JOHANNESBURG (Sputnik) - South Africa's National Liquor Traders Council has welcomed the partial lift of the ban on alcohol sales, while lamenting the lack of support from the government for an industry wearied by the pandemic, spokesperson Lucky Ntimane told Sputnik.

    Alcohol sales were banned in South Africa on December 28. On Monday, following the arrival of first COVID-19 vaccine doses, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced certain loosening of liquor restrictions. Under new regulations, the retail sale of alcohol in South Africa is permitted from Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central African Time (08:00-16:00 GMT) and the on-site consumption in restaurants and pubs from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

    “The tavern sector is subjected to humiliating bans without any due regard to livelihoods that are dependent on the sector compounded by the fact that the government does not provide any relief whatsoever to cushion the blow from these devastating bans,” Ntimane said, adding that the council members "welcome the lifting of the ban and hope this is the last time that the alcohol industry will be tempered with."

    Although the partial ban on the sale of liquor in South Africa has been lifted, the industry sees it as too little too late. Most liquor traders in South Africa say the first ban was manageable; the second one was tolerable, while the third one was unbearable.

    “We have been hit hard because we missed the festive season. Liquor was banned on December 28, leaving us dry and not selling on December 31 and moving forward. We owe suppliers. Some will not make it back," Martin Hlongwa, the owner of a restaurant in Boksburg, told Sputnik.

    Coupled with the continuing curfew — even though it was reduced from 9 p.m. – 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. – 4 a.m. — this will likely hold people back from eating and drinking out, the businessman believes.

    South Africa continues to be under a Level 3 out of 5 lockdown, which means moderate spread of the virus amid moderate preparedness of the national health care system. The African nation is also where a new virus variant with higher contagiousness originated, spreading worldwide.

    As of Tuesday, South Africa confirmed over 1.4 million COVID-19 cases and over 44,000 related deaths, which is the highest toll in the African continent.

    COVID-19, Liquor, alcohol, sales ban, South Africa
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