Liquor industry reacts to new Covid-19 restrictions

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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THE alcohol industry have expressed mixed reactions to new Covid-19 restrictions as tavern owners gathered for training on enhanced Covid-19 compliance, and the Beer Association said they were concerned about the indefinite restriction on the off-site consumption of alcohol sales.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced alert level three restriction in response to the third wave of Covid-19 infections, that would only see alcohol sales off-site permitted from Monday to Thursday from 10am to 6pm.

The popular Rands tavern in Khayelitsha played host to 100 fellow tavern owners who spent three hours going through the finer points of how to ensure maximum Covid-19 safety, including maintaining the correct social distancing and client numbers for their outlet, hygiene and sanitation protocols and mask wearing.

The protocols are contained in a Western Cape Liquor Board-approved manual that serves as the Covid-19 “bible” for tavern owners.

“We are united in the fight against Covid-19 and we are doing everything possible to keep our customers and staff safe. No one should come to a tavern expecting to misbehave or disregard the safety protocols, we won’t accept it,” said National Liquor Traders convenor Lucky Ntimane.

The liquor industry has also suspended supplies to non-compliant outlets.

Distell regional general manager for the Western Cape, Sholto Simms, said he was delighted by the support from tavern owners for the training.

“Partnerships like these where companies like Distell, small township businesses and provincial authorities work together for the common good, show what we can achieve when we all pull in the same direction,” said Simms.

Meanwhile, Basa said they acknowledged the threat of the Covid-19 third wave and were committed to working with the government to help protect lives, but said there was no evidence that restrictions would assist in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

“We are concerned about the indefinite restriction on the off-site consumption of alcohol sales from Fridays to Sundays. There is still no evidence that restrictions on off-site consumption sales will assist in the fight against the spread of Covid-19. We believe that people should also be given the option to purchase alcohol and enjoy it, in moderation, in the comfort of their homes – thereby avoiding social gatherings,” they said in a statement.

“We are also concerned about the unintended consequences of limiting retail hours, which further entrenches the illicit industry who use these restrictions as an opportunity to sell illicit products to the public. Finally, the restrictions will also place a major strain on retailers who are still trying to recover from the previous alcohol bans and sales restrictions.”

The association said it remained committed to working with the government to mitigate the impact of the third wave while protecting the 415 000 livelihoods the beer industry supports.

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