Craft brewers say they might not survive third alcohol ban. Picture: Pexels (Elevate)
Craft brewers say they might not survive third alcohol ban. Picture: Pexels (Elevate)

Craft brewers say they might not survive third alcohol ban

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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Earlier this week, the Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) announced the results of a survey conducted by its member, The Craft Brewers Association of South Africa (CBASA), indicating the devastation craft brewers, as small businesses, face due to the third blanket ban on alcohol.

The survey confirms the extended ban on alcohol has devastated the industry, along with no targeted relief, communication or aid from the government.

Conducted among CBASA members, the survey found :

* 87.5% of craft brewers (7 out of 8) are at risk of shutting permanently due to the economic impact of the third ban on alcohol.

* 60.3% of small business owners of craft breweries had to retrench staff, with job losses occurring as a result of depleted reserves and savings which were used to survive the previous blanket bans on alcohol.

* 41.3 % of craft brewers will have to consider destroying stock that was prepared for the festive season, as it will soon expire in storage.

* 77.8% are unable to pay their rent, suppliers or employees, due to debt accrual.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa moved the country from level 1 to adjusted level 3 lockdown. He banned alcohol sales as coronavirus cases continued to rise and when South Africa was on its way to the peak of the second wave.

The adjusted level 3 is not the same as the one that was placed in July last year. This time, there are stricter restrictions such as the ban on alcohol sales, prohibiting alcohol consumption on site, and in public areas, including parks and beaches.

Basa said the craft brewing industry has done all it could to persevere under extremely restrictive environments.

“CBASA members have maximised their credit extensions, and are now drowning in waves of debt with no ability to pay off their loans or rental fees. Already, 30% of local breweries have been forced to permanently shut their doors and 165 000 people have lost their jobs.

“While Basa remains acutely aware of the need for urgent interventions to curb the spread of Covid-19, the blanket ban has come at the expense of thousands of livelihoods. To make matters worse, the plight of craft brewers has fallen on deaf ears.”

“Basa has written to the Presidency and the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition (DTIC).

“Both the Presidency and DTIC have acknowledged receipt of the letter and Basa awaits further communication from their offices with regards to urgent engagements.

“The industry requires clarity on when the ban will be lifted – without this information, craft brewers are unable to mitigate the impact of the ban and to plan the rebuilding of their businesses.

“If the ban was to be lifted soon, some businesses and jobs could be saved as they would at least be able to sell their stock before it reaches its expiry date. We call on the government to act urgently to save these livelihoods in a way that does not risk lives.”

When the alcohol ban was announced, people on social media had mixed reactions.

Twitter user @Joe_Banana said: “You can swear at me ,it's fine but alcohol, gatherings and groove are a major factor that contributed to the increase in new infections/new wave.”

Others were grateful they would enter the new year sober. “Thanks to #alcoholban Finally someone out there will welcome a new year sober,” commented @stedafans.

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