Alcohol lockdown

Photo: Adobe Stock

Lockdown latest: All the legal – and illegal – ways to drink alcohol in SA

No jogging, no dog-walking, no leaving the house for fun, no cooked food, and no alcohol. Lockdown is tough, but legally, there are still ways to booze.

Alcohol lockdown

Photo: Adobe Stock

Rumour has it, that if you stand in front of a mirror holding a beer – with the lights off – and say “cheers to Bheki Cele” five times, the prohibition-crazed police minister will appear behind you and snatch your drinks. Of course, we jest… but the lockdown-enforced alcohol ban has been a shock to the system for many of us.

Drinkers are taking one for the team – while simultaneously being told they’re human garbage by Cele. Strict anti-booze laws in the National Disaster Act have changed our recreational activities. However, there are still a number of ways you can consume the sauce in a legal manner during lockdown.

Of course, alcohol consumption should be limited for health reasons during this global health crisis – and that’s a point we all agree with. Moderation is the key here, folks. But no-one should be punished for wanting a beer on the weekend or for drinking a casual nightcap. Here’s what the law says

Drinking in lockdown – when is it legal?

If you’ve already got booze in the house

Great news if you’ve stocked up: You are legally allowed to consume all the alcohol you’ve got in your house, considering that it was purchased pre-lockdown. Those of you with wine collections, garage fridges and personal supplies in abundance will be asking; “crisis, what crisis?”

Of course, you’re only allowed to consume the booze on your own property: Don’t just whip out a bottle of Castle during your essential grocery run because its the only public place we can go these days…

Making your own

There’s nothing wrong with a little home-brewing, guys. Well, Bheki Cele might burst a blood vessel once he sees how many South Africans have gone down the “DIY drinking” route already, but that’s collateral damage at this point. The National Disaster Act doesn’t implicitly forbid people from making their own alcohol.

It’s at this point we’d like to warn you off from brewing your own brand of moonshine. Please, keep it simple and stick to beer. We’ve got a lovely “pineapple ale” recipe you can follow, and this method doesn’t come with the risk of blinding anyone. Just don’t make a huge batch in a public place.

Sharing is caring during lockdown

This is probably the shadiest way of squeaking past the rules: If you can give or receive alcohol from someone who doesn’t have to leave their home to hand you a drink, there is no restriction which prohibits such actions – but sending drinks in the post, via a drone or any other ‘moving’ method is not permitted.

In fact, this particular bending of the rules is quite specific. You can drink alcohol belonging to someone staying in the same house as you. Or you (as a neighbour) could, theoretically, send some cans over the fence to the person next door – or vice versa – and there’d be no grounds for arrest. So if you’re running dry, here’s hoping you’ve maintained a good relationship with those in close quarters.

Drinking in lockdown – when is it illegal?

Drinking in a bar, tavern or public institution

Well this would be the stupidest thing you could do right now. Buying beer is outlawed, being in a bar is outlawed, and leaving the house for a non-essential journey is outlawed. There’s no defence if you get caught out this way – and some SAPS officers learned they weren’t above the law after getting busted at a tavern in Free State on Sunday.

Any purchase of booze has been outlawed

Even if you “know a guy that knows a guy” and they can get you the goods, buying alcohol under any circumstances is banned under the National Disaster Act. Whether from a liquor store, a private seller or any other method which requires a transaction, you risk arrest and detention if you get caught.

You cannot transport alcohol from one point to another

Your options for being a good samaritan are limited. Handing a cheeky beer over the fence might not get you banged up, but travelling with alcohol in your car is definitely off-limits. Even if you’re the type of person who always has a bottle in the vehicle, it needs to be removed: We’ve already seen a driver in Mpumalanga cuffed when they found a crate of beer in his boot this weekend. It’s just not worth the risk.