- The President has, very publically, snubbed the Gauteng Liquor Forum over its request to lift the booze ban
- The forum had threatened legal action over the lockdown restrictions pertaining to alcohol
- Cyril Ramaphosa had requested time to deliberate over the request but denied it with a resounding 'no'
President Cyril Ramaphosa has declined the Gauteng Liquor Forum's request for members to be allowed to sell alcohol during the national lockdown.
Briefly.co.za reported that the Forum had sought to challenge the government in the Constitutional Court, with Ramaphosa requesting time until the end of the week to meet with the Covid-19 response council.
The answer, despite hints of a possible concession, has come back a resounding no with Ramaphosa commenting
"The President has carefully considered the representations made by the Gauteng Liquor Forum. These however have had to be weighed up against the imperative of all South African businesses and citizens to comply with the lockdown regulations, the health implications of consumption of alcohol and the priority to ensure social distancing during this principle. As such, alcohol is not considered an essential good or item. It is in fact considered a hindrance to the fight against the coronavirus."
Ramaphosa explained that the decision was bolstered by the risks involved with alcohol consumption
"The President furthermore considered representations from other stakeholders who have pointed to the causal relationship between alcohol intoxication and abuse, and risky behaviour. There are proven links between the sale and consumption of alcohol and violent crime, motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies at a time when all private and public resources should be preparing to receive and treat vast number of COVID19 patients."
The President revealed that not everyone in the industry had backed the forum's request
"The President has further noted that the Gauteng Liquor Forum’s position is not shared by all industry stakeholders; and that a number of other organizations in the liquor industry have rejected the call for the restrictions to be lifted."
In response to concerns over financial loss suffered during this period, Ramaphosa referred the forum to the same help afforded to other businesses
"In response to concerns raised by the Gauteng Liquor Forum that small business in the liquor trade may suffer financial loss during this period, The Presidency has once again drawn the Forum’s attention to the assistance provided by the Tourism Relief Fund, the Department of Small Business Development, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and private endeavours such as the South African Future Trust amongst others. These funds and institutions provide capped grant assistance to small, micro and medium enterprises, to ensure sustainability during this period, as well as support to employees of these enterprises. "
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