Lockdown: Draft regulations propose tobacco ban extension, but lifting ban on liquor – report | News24
A leaked draft of the proposed regulations for Level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown has revealed that the ban on liquor sales will be lifted under strict conditions, while the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products will be extended.
News24 has seen a copy of the draft regulations, by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, which may have changed or could still change before President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the nation on Sunday.
The provisional regulations reveal that the sale, dispensing or transportation of liquor will be allowed under Level 3 of the lockdown.
However, the draft comprises strict regulations which include that off-consumption premises selling liquor may only operate from Monday to Thursday, according to current liquor licence operating hours, and that no special or events liquor licences may be approved for the duration of the national state of disaster.
According to the draft, the sale, dispensing and distribution of liquor by on-consumption premises will remain prohibited; therefore, taverns, restaurants and clubs, as well as premises selling liquor, which also provide accommodation, will not be able to open for trade.
In another contentious issue, the sale of tobacco, e-cigarettes and related products would still be prohibited as per the draft regulations document.
According to a report by the Sunday Times , the issue of liquor and tobacco sales split the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), igniting a debate that lasted five hours during a meeting.
Quoting sources, the Sunday Times reported that no final decision had been taken on tobacco sales, but that the motivation for the extension of the ban had been premised on the belief that smokers had a much higher chance of needing a ventilator should they contract Covid-19.
“No decision was taken on tobacco, but there doesn’t seem to be much appetite to lift that prohibition. The NCCC, like society, is extremely polarised on these matters,” an insider reportedly told the Sunday Times.
The newspaper Quote: d Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu as saying that ministers who chaired cluster committees participated in the drafting process of the regulations and that Dlamini-Zuma was not solely responsible for the proposed regulations.
News24 reported on Friday that Dlamini-Zuma had told the NCCC the sale of tobacco and alcohol should continue to be banned until the country reaches Level 1 of the lockdown.
News24 was reliably told Dlamini-Zuma was supported by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi when she told the NCCC this week she believed it would be too much of a health risk to allow the sale of cigarettes and alcohol on 1 June, when the country is expected to go to Level 3 of the nationwide lockdown.
This prompted a debate in the meeting, chaired by Ramaphosa, with no resolution on the matter, it was reported.
According to a high-ranking insider Quote: d by News24, Dlamini-Zuma had come prepared with academic papers that argued against the sale of tobacco and alcohol during the Covid-19 pandemic, citing health risks.
This was despite an agreement that government would lift the restrictions on the sale of tobacco under Level 3.
Those who opposed the proposal led by Dlamini-Zuma allegedly argued that a pandemic was not the time to make policy decisions, as both the tobacco and alcohol industries were not banned – they were simply regulated.
Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni told News24 the association was not consulted about the decision to continue the prohibition on tobacco sales.
He added that FITA would submit comments when consultations open up, and would continue its litigation against government seeking to declare the ban irrational and have it overturned.
Fin24 previously reported that government agreed to provide FITA with the reasons for maintaining its ban on cigarette and tobacco products under Level 4 of the lockdown.
Mnguni said the record of reasons was expected to be given to the tobacco association on Tuesday.
– Compiled by Alex Mitchley
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