South Africa’s police minister has warned restaurants not to smuggle booze to customers in teapots to try and get around a fresh ban on the sale of alcohol.
A new, faster-spreading variant of the coronavirus was detected in South Africa about two weeks ago and is now well-established in the country.
As part of a new raft of restrictions aimed at restricting further transmission, President Cyril Ramaphosa has banned gatherings except for funerals, imposed a night-time curfew and ordered all shops, bars and other venues to shut by 8pm, reports The South African.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday after the new measures came into effect, Police Minister Bheki Cele warned that restaurant owners would lose their trading licences and be prosecuted if they flouted the ban.
“Don’t put alcohol in your teapots in restaurants. Don’t put alcohol in the bottles written 0% alcohol. We know your tricks, don’t do that,” said Cele.
“If we find that there is something different in the teapots and not tea we will make sure that you lose your trading licence and you may be sent to prison.”
The liquor ban announced on Monday will be in place until mid-January and will be enforced by the police with support from the army.
To beat a hard lockdown imposed in April and May during the first Covid-19 wave some restaurants sought to evade a ban on liquor sales by serving drinks in teapots and other containers.
“Reckless behaviour due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units,” said Ramaphosa.
On Sunday, South Africa became the first country in Africa to pass a million official Covid-19 cases, with almost 27,000 deaths since the outbreak began in March.