SERAME calls on tipplers to adjust to a new normal
• Minister announces relaxation of strictures on trading hours • Warns of pending review of liquor laws • Traditional beer remains outlawed
The government has announced that tipplers will have to adjust to reforms occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a media briefing this week, the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Peggy Serame, said there will be a review of liquor laws and regulations that will mainly affect the sale of alcohol and alcoholic beverages.
After Covid-19 was first reported in China in December 2019, it spread like bushfire to the rest of the world and compelled lockdowns and prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol in most countries among a raft of containment measures.
Speaking at the media briefing, Minister Serame said things will never be they were before the advent of Covid-19. “We are defining our new normal,” she noted. “As we define our new normal, we will look into the Liquor Act which legislates for the sale of alcohol. Which means when we define our new normal, we will look at it and amend it.”
She assured Batswana that there will be thorough consultation, saying the conversation around the legislative review will include all key stakeholders in the liquor industry. “We need to have a national conversation on the use and sale of alcohol,” she said.
Minister Serame noted that there had been compliance with the strictures that came with reopening of liquor outlets over the last two weeks. She said the strictures will be relaxed by extending trading hours for liquor outlets because some of them were negatively affected by the total ban on sales and consumption that accompanied the lockdown.
However, these changes will not be extended to the sale of traditional beer. “The sale of traditional beer remains suspended pending consultation (with magosi),” the minister said. “The hope is that the consultations will be over before mid-July (and) we will come back to announce the re-opening of traditional beer sale and its regulations.”
Under a new regime, bars will open at 10am and close at 7pm from Wednesdays to Fridays and during public holidays. On Saturdays, bars will open at 10am and close at 4pm. Bottle stores will open at 8am and close at 4pm from Wednesdays to Fridays and open at 8am and close at 12 noon on Saturdays.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Botswana Alcohol Industry Association, Mothusi Molokomme, has welcomed the relaxation of the strictures, saying the industry employs more than 17 000 people who all suffered setbacks due to the effects of Covid-19 on the industry.