DURBAN - The Beer Association of SA (Basa) has welcomed the Cabinet's lifting of the booze ban.
Earlier this evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that from tomorrow on-consumption sales of alcohol will be allowed seven days a week until 8pm, while outlets selling alcohol for home consumption can trade from Monday to Thursday between 10am and 6pm.
Ramaphosa further announced the country's move to an adjusted alert level 3.
"The reopening of the alcohol industry, after the latest four-week ban, will offer a lifeline to thousands of businesses and their employees across the alcohol value chain, including liquor stores, taverns, restaurants and breweries. This includes the 31 craft breweries that are on the verge of closure after having lost 161 trade days since March last year," Basa said in a statement.
It added that tonight’s announcement is cold comfort for many businesses that have not survived the alcohol bans that have been imposed over the past 16 months after receiving zero financial assistance from the government. It is therefore critical that those that have managed to stay afloat are still compensated through the Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS).
Basa will also be writing to provincial governments to request that businesses that have their licences up for renewal be granted a grace period and payment holiday, in order to help them get back on their feet over the immediate term.
The beer industry is also appreciative of the three-month tax relief announced by the president this evening. The sector hopes that the government will continue to engage with it regarding other proposals that will assist in rebuilding the industry after the four bans.
In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the alcohol industry, it is also crucial that the sector is properly consulted by the government when it is considering new regulations to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Basa remains committed to working openly and transparently with the government and rolling out reasonable interventions that can save both lives and livelihoods during the pandemic. This includes the use of click-and-collect platforms to assist in ensuring the safety of consumers, the halting of sponsored events that encourage gatherings and enhanced adherence to safety protocols at all its outlets.
However, it is vital that proper consultation between the government and the alcohol industry takes place moving forward, it said. Most importantly, that the government urgently shares the data and evidence on which it has based its decision to enforce four alcohol bans over the past 16 months. This is why Basa, along with other industry members, will still be submitting a Promotion of Administrative Justice Act application to the National Coronavirus Command Council, it said.
"We call on all liquor outlets and establishments to continue playing their part by enforcing the wearing of masks and social distancing in their establishments. We also call on consumers to drink in moderation and continue taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from Covid-19," Basa said.