Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  03 Mar 2009

LIQUOR: 'Let's Close The Bars'


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THE Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that the time to “close the bar” in restaurants, hotels and clubs should be midnight and that supermarket wine departments and bottle stores should be allowed to operate on Sundays and most public holidays.

The Chamber says it objects to the City's proposed 9pm limit to the serving of liquor, pointing out that this will damage the tourist and hospitality industry.

In the letter, Albert Schuitmaker, Director of the Chamber, said he was not aware of any research which established that a restriction in trading hours had resulted in a proportionate reduction in alcohol abuse.

“If restrictions are required these may differ from suburb to suburb to accommodate the different requirements of, say, the tourist in Camps Bay and the worker in Bellville or Fish Hoek. Restrictions should not be invented in order to accommodate every complainant or pressure group.”

The Chamber did not believe that a “one-size-fits-all” approach was correct and said provision should be made, possibly through the sub-councils and zoning schemes, to allow the tourism and hospitality industry to flourish while further restrictions could be applied in areas where there was proven local support for these restrictions.

The permitted trading hours should be fair to the public, the businesses and the stakeholders.  “Nine pm is an impractical cut-off point for the serving of alcohol. Many formal and restaurant dinners commence at 8 pm and to close the bar an hour later would be totally inappropriate. In addition, the 9 pm cut-off would deny members of a wide range of clubs – from squash to chess – a beer or a glass of wine during the socialising which follows matches or practice sessions.”

Mr Schuitmaker warned that if the regulations were too restrictive and were perceived to be unfair, the likely outcome was that they would not be respected.

“This will lead to a variety of schemes to work around the letter of the law and the end result will be that the intentions of legislation will not be realised and the outcome could be a worsening of the perceived problem.”

The Chamber said the restriction on liquor trading on Sundays dated back to a time when legislation made Sundays a day when the country virtually closed down. Since then restrictions had been lifted opening the way for sport, cinemas, concerts and retail business on Sundays.

 “We believe that the regulations on the sale of liquor should be appropriate for the new and more relaxed South Africa of today. On-consumption at licensed premises is now widely permitted. The sale of wine at wine estates is allowed, subject to certain conditions. To be consistent it is therefore proposed that the permission for supermarkets to sell wine on a Sunday be extended to allow bottle stores to trade on Sundays in a similar time frame.”

The Chamber said public holidays “should be treated in line with our proposal for Sundays but an exception could be made for religious holidays of exceptional significance such as Good Friday and Christmas Day when stricter limitations may be appropriate.”

“It is impossible for an authority to accommodate all complaints, many of which are contradictory and unrepresentative.  The Chamber believes that when considering trading days and hours, fairness should be the determining factor.

“Placing significant restrictions on the sale of liquor, whether off premises or on-premises, should be dictated by the current realities, the deregulation of shopping hours, developments in the hospitality industry and the desired growth in our tourism industry.”

The Chamber stressed that decisions should be based on sound research, not on individual experiences and anecdotal evidence.

“The Chamber does not advocate the complete deregulation of the trading days and hours in the liquor industry. It supports a fair and sensible set of regulations which can be enforced and do not unnecessarily impact on the majority of responsible people.”

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