There has been excitement among many Batswana after trade minister Peggy Serame announced that restrictions on the sale of alcohol will be lifted, and that the people can again enjoy buying and consuming alcohol starting Wednesday.
Minister Serame’s announcement this Sunday afternoon follows President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s address on Saturday evening where he also talked of the facets of easing lockdown restrictions in a country with 38 registered Covid-19 cases.
Minister Serame’s announcement was followed by a flood of elation posts on social media with many saying they couldn’t wait for Wednesday to arrive. Many even joked and called Serame the best person in Botswana at the moment.
However, among the conditions to go with the lifting of the ban on alcohol sale, she highlighted that liquor traders can only sell between Wednesday and Saturday every week until further notice. Times of trade have been set as well, with sales allowed between 10am and 6pm midweek and between 10am and 4pm on Saturdays.
An additional condition is that consumption of alcohol will strictly be from home with only liquor restaurants allowed to serve alcohol within the outlets. “But we don’t expect an individual to buy one fatcake with four cases of beer, otherwise even the restaurant owner will be in contravention of set regulations,” Serame added.
Many people were unhappy however, that the sale of traditional home brewed alcoholic beverages is yet to be allowed. This according to Serame has to do with health considerations as some home brews use potentially dangerous ingredients.
She said for the next three months before traditional brew is allowed, Government will embark on a consultative engagement with traditional leaders so as to also formulate regulations to guard against health risks.
Batswana feel that the exception is inconsiderate on poor people who solely depend on selling traditional brew for a living, while already rich people are allowed to sell at their establishments of opulence.
Meanwhile, all licensed outlets have to abide by Covid-19 operating regulations including use of masks, temperature taking and social distancing. Any violation will result in one’simple license being revoked.
Addressing the nation through Botswana Television on Saturday evening, President Masisi had said, “As part of opening up our economy government has decided though in a controlled manner, for the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.”
Masisi however implored the people to drink responsibly, warning that Government would not think twice before banning alcohol again should people cease compliance with measures set to minimize transmission of Covid-19.
Masisi reiterated that his government continues to do its best to safeguard the health the nation whilst ensuring that the economy is able to survive following the effects of Covid-19.
“It must be appreciated therefore, that our on-going efforts to safeguard the future of Botswana in the face of this pandemic will be costly and require that hard choices be made to prioritize the limited resources at our disposal,” Masisi said.
“I want to emphasise that while my Government is implementing plans to recover our economy, we must continue to maintain strict health protocols such as frequent washing of hands with clean water and soap or using sanitizers, wearing of masks in public and continue to keep a safe distance from one another,” he added.