National Liquor Traders Council in a statement on the weekend called on the government to be allowed to continue the off-premises sale of alcohol. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
National Liquor Traders Council in a statement on the weekend called on the government to be allowed to continue the off-premises sale of alcohol. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

Liquor council calls on government to allow off-premises alcohol sales to continue

By Philippa Larkin Time of article published Dec 29, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - National Liquor Traders Council in a statement on the weekend called on the government to be allowed to continue the off-premises sale of alcohol.

The country reported 14000 new Covid-19 cases on December 23.

On Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa placed a ban on the sale of alcohol until at least mid-January as he announced a risk adjusted level 3 for the country.

The council said ahead of the ban being announced: "A total shut-down of liquor sales would mean an end to the tavern market and the 250 000 direct jobs linked to the sector. Industry should be consulted on any restrictions."

The National Treasury reports that the government lost R9.5 billion in alcohol and tobacco taxes during the first four months of the current fiscal year from April through June under the harder Covid-19 lockdown.

It called on the government to continue to work with the alcohol industry to find solutions of mutual benefit on how to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner that could safeguard 1 million livelihoods that were dependent on the alcohol industry.

"We do not think that a total ban on alcohol sales will be a solution either in the short or long term in arresting the resurgence and uptick in the number of positive cases for Covid-19," it said.

The council proposed that the government consider two options to curb the rise of the pandemic.

Firstly, a measured curfew that restricted unnecessary movement of the general public while balancing the interests of the tourism sector, which was dependent on the availability of alcohol.

Secondly, the council said alcohol restrictions, if any, should still provide for off-premises sales to allow for consumption at home and provide a special dispensation for taverns to operate as off premises outlets with restricted hours.

Convenor of the Liquor Traders Formations, Lucky Ntimane said, ‘”As liquor traders we have observed with disappointment the lack of adherence to the control measures by some who have conducted themselves in a manner not befitting of patriotic South Africans. They have failed to heed a call by the President to behave in a manner that helps the country fight the second wave of the pandemic.

“We continue to call on our liquor traders and the public at large to observe the Covid-19 regulations as it relates to the wearing of face masks at all times, sanitising and washing our hands regularly, and observing social distancing,” Ntimane said.

The National Liquor Traders Council said it understood the situation that the country found itself in and the tough decisions the President and the government had to make in the coming days.

It, however, highlighted that any decision that affected the industry should be discussed with it beforehand and its inputs considered before any decision was communicated to the general public.

The alcohol restrictions earlier this year in South Africa hit the industry hard, hurting the supply chain as well as the hospitality industry.

In August Bloomberg reported Anheuser-Busch InBev SA unit South African Breweries said it had halted plans to spend R5 billion on scheduled plant upgrades, glass manufacturer Consol Holdings said it wassuspending building a R1.5bn production plant in the country. Heineken also said it had stopped work on a R6bn brewery.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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