Level 3 lockdown: Alcohol for sale but under strict conditions

Alcohol sales allowed level 3

The sale and purchase of alcohol, which has been strictly prohibited since 27 March, will be permitted during Level 3 lockdown which begins on 1 June.

For almost two months, thirsty South Africans have bemoaned government’s prohibition of booze. Second to the banning of tobacco products, South Africa’s unique liquor laws have been highly controversial. In addition to billions of rands lost due to uncollected excise taxes, regulations of the Disaster Management Act have given rise to a burgeoning black market trade.


Like cigarettes, liquor has still managed to find its way onto the streets. With police resources strained to enforce a host of new laws, the illicit trade has managed to flourish. With bottle stores falling prey to lootings and a nationwide shortage of yeast and pineapples, the result of home brewing attempts, South Africans can finally purchase their favourite booze within the confines of the law.

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that alcohol would be available for purchase during Level 3 lockdown. Amendments to the Disaster Management Act, which governs all lockdown laws, will, however, prescribe stringent control measures to mitigate the inevitable mad dash to bottlestores.


The reintroduction of liquor will be subject to new lockdown laws which deal, predominantly, with the operating hours of outlets. Importantly, the sale of alcohol will not apply to on-consumption premises, meaning restaurants and bars will remain closed to sit-down customers at Level 3 and, when they do reopen, will likely be temporarily restricted from serving liquor.

The following establishments will not be permitted to sell alcohol during Level 3 lockdown:

  • Taverns
  • Restaurants
  • Clubs
  • Hotels, guesthouses (or any commercial accommodation premises)

Only bottle stores and supermarkets — referred to as off-consumption premises — with valid liquor licenses will be allowed to sell alcohol at Level 3 lockdown. Sales will, however, only be permitted between Monday and Thursday and will likely be subject to reduced operation hours.

President Ramaphosa revealed that these regulations, ratified by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), would be gazetted as a priority and come into official effect on 1 June.