The alcohol industry notes media reports that suggest the Government is considering banning alcohol sales as the number of Covid-19 cases increase significantly. The alcohol industry shares the concerns about the sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, particularly in the province of Gauteng and the threat to life that this poses for the people of South Africa.
All sectors need to pull together to contain the spread of infection and support the healthcare system to respond adequately in caring for the infected and in rapidly rolling out the vaccine programme to achieve head immunity.
The alcohol industry would like to make the following submission to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC):
The industry supports the prohibition of all gatherings. There is sufficient evidence that large gatherings contribute significantly to the rapid increase of infections
- Work from Home
The industry supports the call for employers to implement a work from home principle wherever it is possible. We will be encouraging all players within our value-chain – who collectively support one million jobs – to implement the work from measures as much as it is possible.
- Sale of Alcohol
The total ban of alcohol sales in Gauteng will encourage further growth of illicit trade, which has grown from 12% to 22% of the overall alcohol market by volume. A total ban of sales in Gauteng will further encourage inter-provincial travel to the surrounding provinces (Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North-West) at the time when this should be kept to a minimum.
The alcohol industry therefore proposes the following approach:
- Off consumption – sales for home consumption be kept at the current restriction level of Monday to Thursday, 10h00 to 18h00. This will allow for limited access to safe purchase of alcoholic beverages and limit the risk of illegal alcohol trade which escalate during periods of total ban of sales.
- On consumption
- On-consumption alcohol premises (taverns) be allowed to sell alcohol for off consumption during this period of the third wave.
- Food businesses that sell alcohol (restaurants) be allowed to serve alcohol subject to a strict curfew, limit to the number of patrons allowed per outlet and enforcement of health protocols.
- Registered micro alcohol producers (wineries micro-breweries and micro distilleries) should continue to operate as per the current level 3 restrictions.
The industry calls upon Government to work with business and other sectors to speed up the roll out of Covid-19 vaccine to protect lives. Failure to reach adequately vaccine coverage, especially of the vulnerable sections of the population, render our nation vulnerable to a severe impact of further Covid-19 waves and undermines the process of economic recovery.