Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has expressed concern over the impact the alcohol ban is having, and will continue to have, on the province. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has expressed concern over the impact the alcohol ban is having, and will continue to have, on the province. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency

First two weeks of alcohol ban has cost Western Cape economy R1bn, says Winde

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Jan 20, 2021

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Cape Town – The first two weeks of the latest alcohol ban is estimated to have cost the Western Cape economy R1 billion.

This is according to Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, who expressed his concern over the impact over the alcohol ban is having, and will continue to have, on the province as he said 1 893 direct jobs in the retail sector had already been affected.

“The Western Cape’s economy is bleeding, and balance is not currently being achieved in saving both lives and livelihoods,” Winde said.

“The data is clearly pointing to serious economic challenges in the Western Cape, that is costing jobs and hurting the most vulnerable in our communities.

“The first two weeks... has impacted 1 893 direct jobs in the retail sector and 905 induced and indirect jobs across the value chain resulting in 2 798 jobs being compromised.

“If the ban is to continue for a full month, it will end up costing the Western Cape’s economy R2 billion. This would then impact 5 596 jobs.”

He added that according to data from Restaurant Association of South Africa, nearly 30% of restaurants surveyed have closed temporarily or permanently.

“There is an inflection point where shortened operating hours do not make business sense to operate, resulting in workers losing their jobs.

“Wine grapes represent 50.3% of the 181 233 ha under production in the Western Cape, and the replacement value of these wine grapes amount to R33.94 billion.

“The Western Cape’s Department of Agriculture estimates that 45 610, people work in the primary production side of the wine industry and it supports 228 053 people,” Winde said.

Winde explained that, based on the province’s tourism multiplier model, the continued beach ban was also costing the sector over R120 million per month.

“When this significant impact on jobs in the Western Cape is considered in relation to our latest health data it becomes clear that a change to existing restrictions are needed in the Western Cape,” Winde said.

He acknowledged the province needed to change its deadly relationship with alcohol, but added blanket bans were not sustainable.

“I do want to pause for a moment to address alcohol related harms, which remains a major challenge in our province and country.

“The restrictions on alcohol sales without a doubt helped reduce alcohol related harms over the last two weeks. Over New Year’s Eve in particular, when we usually have full trauma wards, we had a relatively quiet evening,” he said.

“This did help our healthcare workers during an unprecedented surge caused by this new more infectious variant.

“With that said, it is simply not possible to ban alcohol indefinitely. As set out above, the sector simply employs too many people and supports too many households for it to be shut down.”

He explained it was critical for the Western Cape’s tourism and hospitality sector, which employed hundreds of thousands of people.

“The Western Cape is continuing, as quickly as possible, with the amendment to the Western Cape Liquor Act to address alcohol related harms in a sustainable manner, because it is clear our deadly relationship with alcohol needs to change urgently.”

Cape Argus

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