The alcohol industry has appealed to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) not to ban alcohol sales following the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
Tthe South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), Vinpro, Liquor Traders Association of SA (LTASA), National Liquor Traders and the CGCSA said in a statement that the alcohol industry shared the government’s concerns about the sharp rise in COVID-19 infections, particularly in Gauteng.
“All sectors need to pull together to contain the spread of the infection and support the health care system to respond adequately in caring for the infected and in rapidly rolling out the vaccine programme to achieve head immunity,” the industry said.
The alcohol industry made the plea to the government to allow alcohol sales in a statement in which it addressed the NCCC on the following issues:
The industry supports the prohibition of all gatherings. There is sufficient evidence that large gatherings contribute significantly to the rapid increase of infections
Work from Home
The industry supports the call for employers to implement a work from home principle wherever it is possible. We will be encouraging all players within our value-chain – who collectively support one million jobs – to implement the work from measures as much as it is possible.
Alchol ban versus sale of alcohol
The total ban of alcohol sales in Gauteng will encourage further growth of illicit trade, which has grown from 12% to 22% of the overall alcohol market by volume. A total ban of sales in Gauteng will further encourage inter-provincial travel to the surrounding provinces (Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North-West) at the time when this should be kept to a minimum.
The industry proposed that off site consumption sales for home consumption be kept at the current restriction level of Monday to Thursday between 10a, and 6pm. It also asked for on-site consumption alcohol premises (taverns) be allowed to sell alcohol for off site consumption.
“Food businesses that sell alcohol, restaurants, (should) be allowed to serve alcohol subject to a strict curfew, with a limit to the number of patrons allowed per outlet and enforcement of health protocols,” the industry said.
The industry added that registered micro alcohol producers such as wineries, micro-breweries and micro distilleries, should be allowed to continue to operate according to the current level 3 restrictions.
“The industry calls upon Government to work with business and other sectors to speed up the roll out of COVID-19 vaccine to protect lives. Failure to reach adequately vaccine coverage, especially of the vulnerable sections of the population, render our nation vulnerable to a severe impact of further COVID-19 waves and undermines the process of economic recovery,” the organisations added.