Beer and its 50 shades of gold. Picture: Supplied
Beer and its 50 shades of gold. Picture: Supplied

Covid-19: Beer industry already losing sleep over 4th wave alcohol ban, saying it will sound the death knell

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Sep 13, 2021

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Pretoria - The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) has “cautiously” welcomed President Ramaphosa’s announcement which eased the country to adjusted level 2 of the lockdown imposed to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“The further easing of restrictions will provide some reprieve to those businesses that have survived the four alcohol bans, which forced the industry to shut down for 161 days since March last year putting just over 240 000 jobs at risk,” said Basa chief executive Patricia Pillay.

She expressed deep concern that with the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections anticipated in South Africa around the festive season, the heavily battered sector could be further decimated.

“However, with a Covid-19 fourth wave expected to hit at the beginning of December, any recovery seen in the sector will be eradicated should another ban be enforced by government over the festive season. With this period also being the busiest time for liquor outlets and establishments, another alcohol ban will no doubt be the final nail in the coffin for thousands of businesses and the jobs they support,” said Pillay.

Basa, therefore, continues to call for “proper consultation” by the government before considering any new regulations to stop the spread of Covid-19 over the coming months.

“Our industry, and the over 450 000 livelihoods it supports, can simply not afford the president announcing another immediate ban on the legal trade of alcohol without any prior warning or an opportunity to properly engage with government,” said Pillay.

“The beer industry will continue rolling out reasonable interventions that can save both lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.”

The association called 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,” said Pillay.

“Finally, we also encourage all South Africans over the age of 18 years to get vaccinated. This is the only way we will be able to fully reopen the economy and resume our normal lives.”

On Sunday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Cabinet has decided that South Africa should be moved from Adjusted Alert Level 3 and placed on Adjusted Alert Level 2 with effect from Monday.

This means that:

− The hours of curfew will now start at 11 pm and end at 4 am.

− Non-essential establishments like restaurants, bars and fitness centres will need to close by 10 pm. This is to allow their employees and patrons to travel home before the start of the curfew.

− All gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

Where the venue is too small to accommodate these numbers with appropriate social distancing, then no more than 50 per cent of the capacity of the venue may be used. This includes religious services, political events and social gatherings, as well as restaurants, bars, taverns and similar places.

- The sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption will be permitted between 10 am and 6 pm from Monday to Friday.

- Alcohol sales for on-site consumption will be permitted as per licence conditions up to 10 pm. Alcohol consumption remains prohibited in public spaces.

These measures will be reviewed in two weeks time depending on the state of the pandemic, said Ramaphosa.

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