New Cape Town liquor by-law relaxes sales rules

THE Cape Town city council on Wednesday approved a new liquor by-law seen as less strict than previous proposals.

The Control of Undertakings that Sell Liquor to the Public By-law is expected to be promulgated in the Provincial Government Gazette in January and will repeal all existing by-laws concerning the sale of liquor. It is likely to come into effect in February.

The by-law allows for the possibility of extended trading hours during the week and on Sundays for off-premise-consumption liquor trade.

Earlier this year, the city made a U-turn on a controversial section in its Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law, which came into effect in April, that banned liquor sales on Sundays.

However, the enforcement of this by-law was suspended in March pending consultation with the public and stakeholders on this clause and the by-law in its entirety.

At the time the city said “new information” had come to light that showed the ban of liquor sales on Sundays would have dire consequences for businesses. There were fears that the ban would fuel illegal trade and hit traders hard.

According to the South African Liquor Traders Association, liquor traders make 20%-30% of their profits on Sundays.

In August, Cape Town’s economic, environmental and spatial planning portfolio committee considered proposed amendments to the Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law, which then paved the way for the consideration and adoption of the new by-law.

The new legislation allows for applications from businesses licensed for off-premise consumption for the right to trade on Sundays and to extend their trading hours within certain limits. It also provides for businesses that are licensed for on-premise consumption that are not in residential areas to apply for extended trading hours within certain limits.

Cape Town mayoral committee member for economic, environmental and spatial planning Garreth Bloor said on Wednesday that the by-law had gone through a rigorous public participation process.

“With the adoption of the by-law, we believe we have been sensitive to the need to balance the challenge of addressing the social impact of liquor trading without causing job losses and damage to the local economy,” Mr Bloor said.

He said applications for the extension of on-premise-consumption trading hours would continue as normal. However, applications for the extension of off-premise-consumption trading hours can only be made after the new by-law was gazetted.

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