Pretoria - The South African alcohol industry has called on the government to review the ban on alcohol sales as soon as the country’s health improves in order to ensure its long-term survival.
The industry which includes the National Liquor Traders Council, South African Liquor Brandowners Association, the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa, retailers and manufacturers, made the call following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday to move the country to an adjusted level three of the national lockdown.
Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving back to an adjusted level three of the lockdown from midnight until January 15, in order to mitigate the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also announced earlier on Tuesday at a briefing of the National Coronavirus Command Centre that South Africa had surpassed the peak of the first wave of the pandemic with over 1 011 871 cases.
The industry said while they fully supported the government’s efforts to reduce the risk of transmission of new cases while keeping the economy open, they were equally worried about the impact of the third ban on alcohol this year.
As it stood the industry said the prohibition of distribution and transportation which was in place at Lockdown level 5 had caused severe operational and logistical difficulty for the industry as products could not be moved from production site for safekeeping in warehouses.
“This development will have a devastating impact that could potentially lead to job losses across the value-chain of the alcohol industry including the retail sector. A third ban would cause irreparable damage to small and medium-sized businesses that would be unlikely to survive.”
“We believe that limitations on alcohol sales can be imposed in a less damaging manner that alleviates the impact on the healthcare system, helps to mitigate transmission while still helping to preserve livelihoods.”
For its part, the industry has called on the government to review the ban on distribution and transportation of alcohol to allow each company to manage safekeeping of stock.
While at the same time ensuring that export of alcohol to countries without prohibitions on alcohol to be allowed to continue uninhibited.
And lastly for the government to review the health system over the next 14 days in order to enable it to review the ban on retail and on-consumption sales as soon as possible.