Liquor industry reopens with implementation of commitments agreed with government

by | Jun 5, 2020 | Covid-19

After four days of trading in Alert Level 3, the liquor industry reopened across its supply chain with measures enforced around security, crowd control, social distancing and hygiene safety. The sector had previously made comprehensive commitments to DTIC regarding measures to be implemented to ensure a safe reopening.

During the first week of trading, operations ran smoothly across the supply chain to enable restocking of outlets for off-site consumption and online sales which had been planned to alleviate social distancing issues. Across all nine provinces, no major incidents were reported.

The agreement brokered between government and the industry imposed strict guidelines on the alcohol industry regarding complying with COVID-19 precautions. The industry also agreed to distribute PPE packs and to use its media platforms to drive home the call for cooperation from consumers to drink responsibly, to observe social distancing protocols as well as avoid stock piling.

Prior to opening last Monday and over the course of the week, taverns were supplied with “Return to Work Safety Packs” of personal protective equipment (PPE) so that they can operate safely. Further plans are in place for broader distribution of sanitiser, face masks, badges, and educational posters to display in the taverns as well as face shields and protective screens to the trade over the coming days.

Tavern owners across the country proactively undertook extensive preparations in the days prior to 1 June by ensuring their outlets were ready for trade. Installation of clear signage with safety protocols were displayed as part of compliance ahead of the first day of trading. Some of the initiatives taken by taverns to ensure readiness included making social distancing markings on the floor in their premises using paint, beer crates and industrial tapes, zero admittance to customers who were not wearing masks, sanitizers made available to all consumers entering the premises and complete compliance to trading hours adhering to the 15 minutes winding down period prior to 17h00 closure.

Commenting on the implementation of the commitments that were agreed with the DTIC, Lucky Ntimane, Key Accounts Manager said, “After nine weeks of lockdown, the industry has taken a cautious approach to its reopening to ensure safety and responsible drinking are paramount, while keeping customers safe and promoting the interventions from government to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

“The industry is committed to dealing with some of the problem areas identified as a meaningful partner and has taken robust steps to ensure the measures proposed and agreed last week have been implemented throughout its supply chain.

“Tavern owners are grateful to be open again and I was impressed by the commitment shown by them and their customers to ensure the COVID-19 regulations were followed and that the commitments the industry made were fulfilled on-the-ground. They even devised clever ways of making sure physical distancing was observed — sometimes using empty beer crates to demarcate areas in the queues — and the consumers were willing to go along with it.”

The industry has warned of the ongoing threat from the illicit liquor market not complying with the measures implemented by the industry leading to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol. Concluding, Lucky Ntimane said, “Our members are ready and prepared for this eventuality and we will be reporting any sale of alcohol by rogue elements in our communities to the Illicit Hotline and also to law enforcement officials as we enforce the industry’s commitments during Alert Level 3. We know that the illicit markets will spring up over the weekend and we call on every South African to act by drinking responsibly.”

Issued by FTI Consulting on behalf of the Liquor Industry
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