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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  02 Sep 2010

LIQUOR LAWS: No More Champagne Breakfasts


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CAPE TOWN’s new liquor regulations, approved by the City Council last month, were unnecessarily restrictive and would even outlaw champagne breakfasts at any hotel or restaurant in the City.

In terms of the regulations, which come into force some time next year,  no establishment will be allowed to serve liquor of any description before 11am and the Cape Chamber of Commerce says this is an unreasonable restriction and that it will have an adverse effect on the City’s reputation for good hospitality.

 “We understand that the City tightened up on their regulations in a bid to deal with social problems flowing from liquor abuse, but it has gone too far. Champagne breakfasts, for instance, have never been a problem,” said Albert Schuitmaker, Director of the Chamber.

This traditional form of celebration was an example of responsible drinking. The sparkling wine was often diluted with orange juice and consumed with food. This eliminated most of the social risks associated with alcohol and the decision to outlaw champagne breakfasts was a small-minded one that reflected badly on the Council.

In a letter to the City Council, he said “we live in a world of international air travel which operates 24 hours a day. Planes are delayed and passengers can arrive at any time of the day or night. Many of them have flown in from other time zones and 24-hour service is essential at airports and hotels if we are to stay in step with the world.”

The Chamber was pleased that the original proposals, which would have prevented licensed restaurants from serving wine after 9 pm, had been modified so that wine could now be served until 11pm. They should, however, be permitted to cater for breakfast functions and to serve sparkling wine.

The new regulations created an absurd situation for the hospitality industry. Hotels could serve drinks until 2 am and would then have to go “dry” until 11am the next day. They could, however, serve drinks as part of their 24-hour room service to registered guests.

Schuitmaker  said it did not make sense to allow bottle stores to open at 9 am, serve drinks in rooms at any hour but to forbid the serving of liquor in dining rooms before 11 am. The Chamber also felt that it was unreasonable to close all bottle stores at 6pm when many people were still at work or on their way home.

The new regulations were completely out of line with the more liberal approach to trading hours which saw many supermarkets trading from 8 am to 8 pm seven days of the week. “We no longer live in the old South Africa which virtually closed down on Sundays. In fact, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays have become major family shopping days and the City Council should understand this.”

Liquor abuse was a social problem which had little to do with trading hours.  He challenged the City to produce evidence which showed that extended trading hours lead to more abuse. Decisions should be based on sound research, not on individual experiences and anecdotal evidence.

I think the City Council should think again and come up with more realistic regulations. The liquor regulations they have approved are an embarrassment to Cape Town, a city known as the Tavern of the Seas,” said Schuitmaker.

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