Liquor industry tackles non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations
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Durban - The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) said the supply of its products would be cut off to outlets and establishments whose licences had been revoked by provincial liquor authorities due to non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
This follows an announcement by the Department of Health that South Africa had entered the second Covid-19 wave due to increased infections.
Several festive season interventions in partnership with government, the broader alcohol sector and the tourism and hospitality industry were revealed yesterday during a virtual briefing.
Basa chief executive Patricia Pillay said the interventions would ensure alcohol was sold and consumed under the strictest safety conditions, taking into account physical distancing and health protocols.
“The beer industry will maintain its zero-tolerance approach towards non-compliant businesses by cutting off supply to those outlets and establishments that have had their licences revoked by provincial liquor authorities,” said Pillay.
She said the association’s intention was not only to safeguard the public, but also the 415 000 jobs in the beer industry.
“The previous alcohol bans and prolonged restrictions on the trade of alcohol saw an estimated 7 400 jobs lost, R14.2bn in lost sales revenue and more than R7.4bn loss in taxes and excise duties in the beer industry alone,” said Pillay.
The craft brewery sector was particularly hard hit, with 30% of breweries shutting their doors while those that remained open were forced to retrench staff, resulting in hundreds of job losses.
“Those businesses that managed to survive can simply not afford another ban or further trade restrictions,” said Pillay
She said members had provided training and guidelines to outlets across the country to ensure compliance.
She said 50 000 educational posters had been rolled out to establishments and a number of click and collect platforms were launched.
“We will also continue promoting the toll-free hotline 080 0014 856, which citizens can call to report incidents of criminality linked to the sale and consumption of alcohol.”
Pillay said they had representatives on the ground who ensured that outlets were safe and knew the rules.
She said these also assisted outlets who ran out of personal protective equipment, to acquire more.
SA Tourism chief Sisa Ntshona said as the country was following a risk-adjusted strategy, the industry needed to adjust accordingly.
He said the short-term pleasure of the festive season would see the country pay a long-term price.
“Do we need to have Covid-19 monitors in establishments to ensure that people wear masks, sanitise and practise social distancing,” asked Ntshona?
Heidi Bartes, the corporate affairs manager at South African Breweries (SAB) said in collaboration with SAPS in hot spot communities 500 patrollers would be dispatched to monitor and report non-compliance during the festive season.
Convener of the Liquor Traders Association of SA, Lucky Ntimane, said they had tavern compliance focus groups to educate liquor traders and customers.
“We need to change our tact, it cannot be profit at all costs. We need to protect our customers and we do not want to be known as superspreaders,” he said.
He said the power also lay with consumers, who have the choice not to enter or remain in an establishment where regulations were not being followed.
“We must put pressure on establishments. It takes two to tango, starve them of your rand,” he advised.
Ntimane said their tavern dialogue programme, in partnership with SAPS and the Department of Social Development, where men were spoken to about gender-based violence showed that the association was ready to tackle bigger societal issues.
Millicent Maroga, the corporate affairs director at Heineken SA, said the industry had a role to play in addressing the harm and encouraged a positive drinking culture.
Se said programmes to address drinking and driving and underage drinking among other issues, would be launched next year.
“We need to change the behaviour of how South Africans drink,” said Maroga.