Staff Writer

The Namibian Police Force (NAMPOL) has welcomed the newly amended government regulations which have imposed a total ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages during the on-going lockdown, reversing earlier regulations which had allowed alcohol with a content below 3 percent to be sold.

Under the new gazetted regulations, liquor is now defined as any spirits, wine, beer, cider or other beverage containing alcohol intended for human consumption, excluding alcohol intended to be used for medicinal purposes.

“The amended regulations make it easier for us to enforce the lockdown and we are glad the leaders heeded to our concerns and the challenges we were facing under the previous regulations,” NAMPOL Spokesperson, Deputy-Commissioner, Kauna Shikwambi told the Windhoek Observer.

Justice Minister Yvonne Dausab admitted concerns raised by the police and public over the regulations had played a part in government’s decision to enact revised regulations which now impose a ban on any alcohol sales.

“This was primarily because of complaints from law enforcement agencies that the earlier definition was creating a loophole for some people who started buying and consuming alcoholic beverages under 3 percent in big quantities. But also, a large segment of our population felt it was creating an unnecessary divide and it made sense that all alcohol be prohibited to avoid concerns from any particularly group,” said Dausab.

She said government was aware the ban will not be popular especially among the drinking public.

“Not everyone will be happy but let’s focus on getting through stage two by adhering to wearing a mask, physical distancing of 1.5 meters, personal hygiene and avoiding crowds,” the justice minister said.

“In the new definition, the focus is on prohibiting any beverage which contains any alcohol by weight or volume.”

The decision by government comes after concern had been raised about its earlier decision, which gave Namibia Breweries Limited (NBL), a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group an opportunity to restart the sale of certain alcoholic beverages with a lower alcohol content such as their Tafel Radler and Windhoek Light range.

O&L Group Executive Chairman, Sven Thieme said its NBL unit will be impacted by the government decision.

“It will have an impact on the business but again government can do what they want. At the moment you will realise they have a responsibility to deal the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said.

Quizzed if they had been consulted on the planned revision of the regulations which had previously benefited the group’s brewery business and whether the decision will negatively impact on its planned job creation strategy, he said, “Government does not need to consult us. Our strategy is for 2025 and we have still have a long way to go.”

Tafel Radler is NBL’s first offering in the flavored, low alcohol segment and was launched in September last year and exceeded all expectations in terms of consumer uptake according to the Group.