The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) expressed its support for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement to shift the curfew to 11 pm and increase in gatherings to 250 indoor and 500 outdoor as a positive step to support the recovery of bars, restaurants and tavern businesses.
However, SALBA is concerned about the continued prohibition of off-consumption sales on Saturday and Sunday as the government has failed to justify this decision.
SALBA Chairperson Sibani Mngadi said, “We have approached the Ministerial Advisory Council and government representatives at Nedlac. None of them has been able to provide any justification for this or some scientific evidence to support the decision.”
The association said the restrictions had only encouraged the illicit alcohol industry and further damaged the legitimate enterprises struggling under the weight of these irrational measures. It had also damaged the supply chain. The further support to organised crime that this type of decision-making enables is exceptionally worrying for the legal alcohol industry.
“The recent unemployment figures released by StatsSA that South Africa has 15 million unemployed people who cannot be ignored. It is an accumulation of unfortunate decisions to shutdown economic activities over that past year, including four total bans of alcohol sales,” said Mngadi.
SALBA CEO Kurt Moore said: “It is time to drive the recovery of the economy of our country. We need to sustain the marginal GDP growth of 1.2% announced by Stats SA last month. Critical to the sustainability of the relaxed regulations is our commitment to support the government in improving vaccine uptake.”
He said the industry’s initial focus was to support the vaccination of its employees and will be expanding to support broader societal efforts to reach herd immunity to return the economic activity to some level of normality.
The alcohol industry reiterated its support for public education and awareness efforts to encourage vaccination and encourage behaviours that prevent infections, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and regular use of sanitisers.
“We have seen an extraordinary uptake in the vaccination rollout—as of 11 September, more than 14,7 million vaccines had been administered,” said Moore. “We commend the Department of Health, and we are committed to supporting the efforts to expand immunisation even further through our industry infrastructure and brand properties.”
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) COVID-19 infections show signs of a sustained downward trend. As of 11 September 2021. The NICD institute reported only 5,309 new in South Africa, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,854,234. It also confirmed that the 7-day moving average daily number of cases had decreased.
Mngadi added that SALBA members are actively encouraging their employees to take the vaccine, and will work with all stakeholders to promote the vaccine.