Mixed reaction after government relaxes Covid-19 rules, lifts more alcohol restrictions
Johannesburg – The Beer Association of SA (Basa) on Thursday applauded the government’s lifting of restrictions on alcohol trade that were imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Western Cape provincial government run by the DA also welcomed the move to allow international travel to all countries, but the opposition party’s national leader slammed the government for extending a state of disaster around the pandemic by another month.
In a national address on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced normal alcohol trading hours would now be allowed as well as all international flights to support the recovery of an economy brought to its knees after the government imposed a lockdown in late March to try and contain transmissions of the coronavirus.
Ramaphosa, however, urged South Africans to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 – as has happened in numerous countries in Europe – by respecting health protocols.
Responding to the lifting of alcohol restrictions, Basa said previous rules in place over the past seven weeks, under which licensed outlets could only sell alcohol for home consumption on weekdays from 9am until 5pm, had a devastating impact on small businesses, including craft breweries.
“As a result of continued lockdown restrictions, 15% of craft breweries have been forced to close down over the past few months.
“Many breweries that have managed to stay open have been forced to retrench staff, resulting in hundreds of job losses across the sector,” it said.
“The lifting of the restrictions will therefore have a positive impact when it comes to safeguarding jobs and small businesses as well as bringing in much needed tax revenue into the fiscus.”
The beer industry would continue highlighting the importance of responsible and moderate alcohol consumption and preventing the spread of Covid-19 as the country moved towards the festive season, the association said.
Western Cape head of finance and economic opportunities David Maynier said the now-lifted ban that the government had kept in place on travel to and from countries with high cases of Covid-19, had been killing the province’s key source markets for tourism ahead of the summer season.
“We welcome the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night that the ‘red list’ will be scrapped and international travel to all countries will resume,” Maynier said.
“The relaxation of the restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be welcomed by the wine tourism sector who will now be able to resume cellar door sales on weekends.”
However, DA leader John Steenhuisen said by extending the state of disaster by yet another month, the government was effectively managing South Africa around a single risk “when our nation is so imperilled by far greater risks, such as poverty, hunger and unemployment”.
“Stop managing South Africa around a single risk, Mr President.
“Stop the fear-mongering, stop the economy-bashing, and end the state of disaster,” Steenhuisen said.
African News Agency (ANA)