Cape Town liquor laws come into effect

Cape Town City Council has suspended its plan to ban alcohol sales on Sundays following a last-minute motion to amend its controversial liquor law which came into effect on 1 April.

However the bulk of the other changes to the Liquor Trading Days and Hours By-law are in operation, reducing the hours of alcohol consumption in Cape Town's bars and restaurants.

Off-licences are banned from selling alcohol after 18.00 (compared to the previous time of 20.00), while late-night clubs, hotels and casinos can serve until 02.00 or, if they apply for an exemption, until 04.00. On-premises consumption of alcohol in residential areas is permitted from 11.00 to 23.00, and at sports or community clubs from 11.00 until midnight. Licenced wineries are allowed to sell sparkling wine seven days a week from 08.00 to 23.00, if consumed with food. 

However, as part of the city's consideration of further possible amendments to sections of the by-law, the by-law will now go through two further rounds of public consultations. The first round, which will run for 30 days, is expected to begin at some stage in April and will be advertised in the local media. The second round is a 45-day period that will allow for input on draft amendments, as informed by the first round.

Meanwhile a new dedicated liquor enforcement and compliance unit has been conducting random inspections to enforce the unpopular by-law which has been opposed by the hospitality sector from the outset.

Representatives of the industry claim the by-law has already resulted in a significant drop in revenue for some of its workers, and that far from curbing alcohol abuse, the new liquor law will only benefit illegal traders or "shebeens" in or around Cape Town. The city’s off licences say that they make most of their profit in the evening when people are returning home from work.