The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) has written to the Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC), Prof Koleka Mlisana, calling for the release of the information that informed the MAC’s recommendation to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to ban all alcohol sales in relation to the third wave of infections.
SALBA Chair Sibani Mngadi said, “The Delta variant has been reported in more than 80 countries, and SA stands out as a country that has elected a total alcohol sales ban as its intervention. We would therefore like to understand what international best practice or local scientific data was used for the MAC to conclude that off and on-consumption sales ban was the best solution.”
Mngadi said MAC should substantiate its claims and not ignore other significant socio-economic activities that might be driving the rise in infections. He said the industry—and the people of South Africa—deserved clarification on how the current 14-day ban of both on and off- consumption alcohol sales was supposed to alter infection trends.
“MAC has indicated that the current wave of infections is driven by the Delta variant of the virus, which was first reported in India. We have verified that none of the states in India banned alcohol sales as part of the country’s response to the Delta variant of Covid-19 infections. We, therefore, want to understand MAC’s scientific basis for recommending a total prohibition of alcohol,” said Mngadi.
With its constant total bans of alcohol sales, Mngadi said, South Africa was an outlier in the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic which has sought to balance saving lives and livelihoods. He said the industry has repeatedly called on the government to learn from other countries’ solutions which balance saving lives while not collapsing the national economy and destroying people’s livelihoods.
SALBA has requested that the MAC make this information available as soon as possible to allow for a proper review ahead of the 11 July expiry date for the current restrictions. “In the interest of scientific transparency, we believe that MAC should not have a problem in sharing this information,” said Mngadi.
The alcohol industry shares the concerns about the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and the threat to life that this poses for the people of South Africa. The alcohol industry calls on the government to reassess its response to the coronavirus pandemic by implementing more effective measures, including addressing its handling of the vaccine rollout, that will have greater success in curbing the sharp rise in infection rates during the third wave.