Government avoids a total ban on booze but imposes 4-day ban on off-site sales
JOHANNESBURG - PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa last night avoided a total ban of alcohol sales in the country during the Easter weekend following meetings with stakeholders but imposed restrictions on off-site consumption of liquor.
Ramaphosa evaded what the industry had touted as a possible 11-day ban effective Thursday but imposed a 4-day ban from Good Friday to Easter Monday.
Ramaphosa said other measures such as the midnight curfew, maximum number of people at funerals and interprovincial travel would remain unchanged.
In spite of the relatively low transmission levels, Ramaphosa said the government felt that it needed to take a stricter approach against alcohol consumption.
For the past two weeks, the number of new cases has remained relatively stable at around 1 200 new cases per day in spite of the vaccination drive lagging behind.
“However, given the role of alcohol in fuelling reckless behaviour, we will put in place some restrictions over the Easter weekend,” he said.
“To this end, the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”
Earlier, the SA Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) said that it had submitted an urgent request for information in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requesting information that the government has used to decide to yet again ban alcohol sales.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said the submission came in the wake of a meeting with officials of the
Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on Mondaythat the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) intended to ban sales of alcohol for 11 days.
Mngadi said the association had given the government until today to furnish the information.
“We have had three bans totalling 19 weeks of lost trade days with R36 billion loss in sales revenue for the industry and R29 billion loss in tax revenue for the government since the start of the lockdown this time last year,” Mngadi said. “However, (Trade and Industry) Minister (Ebrahim) Patel has only found time on one occasion to meet with industry to inform us of the third liquor ban.”
SAB vice-president of corporate affairs Zoleka Lisa said the industry had lost over R36bn in revenue and over 200000 jobs were at risk as a result of the three alcohol bans.
Investec chief economist Annabel Bishop said tighter lockdown restrictions would weaken economic activity and so delay recovery.
Bishop said the lagged impact of the lockdown restrictions was putting back South Africa’s employment drive by several years.
“The unemployment rate is likely to rise further as more non-economically active individuals seek to come back into the employment net before stronger economic growth in coming years then reduces it back below 30 percent,” Bishop said.