The Lesotho Liquor and Restaurant Owners Association (LI$ROA) members are not very much pleased with the Governmentâ€™s decision for not relaxing some of the regulations for their business.
The President of the association Motseki Nkeane indicated that the association contributed to the content of the Framework Mitigation Strategy and that their input was always incorporated in every one of the past stages of the lockdown.
â€œThey always consulted us before making decisions about us, but this time around we were not consulted. When the framework was done, it had been agreed that when we come to the purple color we will be allowed to operate from Monday to Friday from 8am to at least 8pm but that is not the case we are only operating from Monday to Thursday from 8 to 6,â€ he said.
Nkeane indicated that nothing much has altered for their industry except for extension of two hours.
â€œWe pleaded with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) that we be allowed to work on Friday because our customers knock-off from work earlier on Friday than other days. We were saying that because Monday to Thursday are not as important to us and economically-rewarding as Friday. We did not demand too much as we agreed that we will continue to offer take aways only but we should also be allowed to work from 8am to 8pm before the curfew starts,â€ he said.
â€œAll of the restrictions lead to some of the people to smuggle beer, either they are licensed or not licensed. Already there are unlicensed liquor businesses that are smuggling beer and that attract licensed business owners to do likewise because they are not getting enough money when trying to do the right thing,â€ he said.
According to the Risk Determination and Mitigation Framework under the purple color which falls under clustering infections, liquor stores operate from Monday to Thursday. Operate from 8am until 6pm and take out only with restricted quantities per person. Half a case for 1% to 10% alcohol content, 6 liters for 11% to 20% alcohol content and one liter for 21% + alcohol content. Nightclubs to be completely closed.
NACOSECâ€™s Risk Communication Manager Baroane Phenethi, indicated that all stakeholders that maybe affected by the Covid-19 restriction are consulted whenever there is going to be a change in the rules and regulation.
â€œAfter the consultations their views are taken to the top management where a final decision is made. When the decision is taken, we try to meet everyone halfway, so that while preserving business we also protect the lives of the buying public,â€ he said.
â€œIt is necessary that liquor stores open only on Monday to Thursday because on Friday it might happen that a lot of people may gather to the store knowing they are not going to work the following day. Decisions like this need to be taken to protect the nation. Not all people will be pleased by the changes but the public also need to be protected against the pandemic,â€ he said.