Fear of a return to level 5 prompts liquor stockpiling 'just in case'

A security guard performs a temperature check outside a Gauteng liquor outlet on Monday, as queues form on the first day of booze sales being allowed again.
A security guard performs a temperature check outside a Gauteng liquor outlet on Monday, as queues form on the first day of booze sales being allowed again.
Image: Shonisani Tshikalange

Patrons eager to quench their thirsts after two liquorless months during stages 4 and 5 of the lockdown on Monday said they would stockpile booze to ensure they did not run out again. 

Cautious tipplers went the route of a personal shopper, while parking attendants hoped the shoppers kept back some cash for their tips.

SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE spoke to wine lover Patricia Oberholzer shortly after she had joined the long and winding queue at Makro in Strubens Valley.

“When the lockdown started, we didn’t know we would go this long without alcohol. Today, when I buy, I want to buy enough to last me for a while, just in case government puts us back on level 5 again,” she said.

Gauteng's metros are among the hotspot areas where infections are growing and the government has said the status of hotspots will be reviewed every fortnight.

Hundreds of people, wearing face masks in line with the regulations, had joined the line ahead of Oberholzer, with some were preparing to spend quite a while in the queue before being let into the store.

“I came with a van to stock. I want to buy ciders, beers, gin and vodka,” said Thato Mashego from Soweto. He was making his purchases for himself and others who had been unable to come to the shops. “I charged them just a small amount for the service,” Mashego said with a laugh.

Besides the queues, patrons also had to manoeuvre their way through the parking lot to find parking. Bays closest to the door were quickly occupied.

“Ey, it’s busy my sister,” said a parking assistant walking back to the store, pushing a trolley. He said the lockdown had led to them losing a large amount of income. He hoped that with people being generous in their buying of booze, they would also be generous with tips.  

Meanwhile, at the Tops outlet on Gordon Road in Bergbron, the situation was far calmer. Patrons standing in the short queue, observing social distancing guidelines, commented about how bad things were at other outlets.

One by one, they stood in the queue, made their way inside and returned with trolleys rattling with booze bottles. 

Ntokozo Yingwana, Thulani Nkomo and Bukhosi Nkomo were among the first customers. 

The three said it felt “like Christmas” to be reunited with alcohol. Despite buying a significant amount, they said “this was just a starter”. They were planning to buy more on Wednesday.


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