The government’s decision to allow bottle stores and other liquor retail outlets to reopen has stirred controversy with some people in support of the move while others are apprehensive that it could lead to a spike in coronavirus infections.
During a Cabinet briefing on Tuesday in Harare, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said:
Following representations from the Liquor Retailers’ Association seeking permission for liquor retailers to commence operations, Cabinet resolved that operations could resume in line with COVID-19 regulations and on condition that no liquor is consumed at their premises.
Owners of night clubs say the announcement has left them confused as their businesses operate at night when a curfew runs from 8 PM to 6 AM so they need to operate during the day when the relaxation applies. One imbiber said:
It’s like giving a child a colourful sweet that induces drooling, only to discover the mouth-watering goodie is tasteless.
Sports bar owners also feel that the move does not go far enough as they need customers to sit on the premises to enable them to make money. Pub Lagondola manager Bekithemba Masuku:
We are still confused as to how we are going to operate as sports bars. We are waiting on the regulations on that. We need people to sit down and drink for us to make money.
If they say a certain number are allowed to be on the premises and the times, we should be operating we shall reopen.
Reports indicate that there have been coronavirus “bar outbreaks” in some parts of the world.
For instance, in France, a 19-year-old with COVID-19 managed to infect 72 of his friends by partying at an over-packed bar in the small town of Quiberon.