By Phumla Mkize
Johannesburg – It is a catch-22 situation; the liquor industry knows it, and so does the public and our lawmakers.
Alcohol, after all, lowers one’s inhibitions.
So, it is understandable that some liquor sellers are pleading with President Cyril Ramaphosa to give them a heads-up next time he decides to impose a wholesale ban on the sale of alcohol.
One thing is for sure, the consumption of alcohol provides a fertile atmosphere for the spread of the coronavirus, especially the local variant.
So, when the casualty wards are again overwhelmed with alcohol-related cases, and the number of active Covid-19 cases rise along with the death toll; the alcohol industry is saying: please do not take it out on us.
The reality is that no matter how compliant the bars, taverns and shebeens are with Covid-19 regulations, alcohol consumption is a super spreader of the coronavirus.
And not everyone can drink at home.
Some don’t even have enough space to enjoy a pint in peace. Others need company to enjoy alcohol.
So, what can Ramaphosa do? What can liquor associations do? What can bar, tavern and shebeen owners do when their customers do not sanitise and avoid physical contact?
It is a predicament for the liquor industry which is proving to be the bedrock of the entertainment and leisure sectors and creates jobs while on the other hand burdening the health and police services.
So, if drinkers are not careful to avoid the behaviours that spread the coronavirus, a third wave is unavoidable.
But is a liquor ban unavoidable given the reasons why it was imposed in the first place? Spare a thought for the shebeen owner that has a different set of problems altogether – and they started way before Covid-19.
The shebeen was doing so well that its owner decided to jazz it up with porcelain tiles, a lick of paint and new fridges.
Unfortunately, it was not until customers flooded the shebeen after a downpour that the tavern owner realised that the tiles were not a great idea.
It was a muddy mess. That’s when the intermittent cleaning started.
There’s nothing that irks a drinker more than being asked to move, lift this or that, or mind this or that. Suffice to say, the cleaner the floors, the less were the customers. When the first hard lockdown was proclaimed; the shebeen with its new tiles and fridges was already on the verge of closure.
But when the first alcohol ban was lifted, the shebeen was one of the first to offer the coldest beverage in that part of town.
It now has a steady stream of custumers. So, can you imagine the shebeen owner’s worry now that business is picking up again? Ku tricky. Ku tense. Ku wawu.
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