The South African alcohol industry welcomed the message of President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address to the nation regarding the resurgence of Covid-19 infections.
The President drew attention to the recent resurgence of Covid-19 infections in hot spots, identified by the Department of Health (DOH), particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) Metro. He spelt out that collaboration with all stakeholders, including the liquor industry, had determined the necessity of targeted interventions. In the case of the NMB, this would mean additional restrictions would be implemented from midnight on 3 December.
Sibani Mngadi, Chairman of the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), said the sector supported the government’s approach of localised targeted interventions and would continue collaborating closely with various spheres of government to ensure that the lockdown level 1 regulations were adhered to and that everyone remained vigilant.
“We respect the government’s rational and measured response to the increases in the number of cases in various hot spots,” said Mngadi. “We echo the President’s call to remain vigilant. We urge alcohol outlets to adhere to the government’s Covid-19 regulations, namely, insisting on masks, maintaining social distancing, obeying the curfew hours and sanitising regularly and repeatedly. The same goes for the customers.”
Mngadi said the alcohol industry was already working together with Eastern Cape government with a specific focus on NMB in particular. Last week, the industry formed a joint task team comprising the Eastern Cape Provincial Government to continue the collaboration in addressing Covid-19 challenges in the province.
“The industry has already committed to train and deploy 80 community patrollers in eight police stations (10 patrollers per station) in the Covid-19 hotspots areas in the province. Working together with the SAPS and Community Policing Forums, the patrollers will ensure compliance with the regulations in alcohol outlets in the catchment areas of the selected police stations,” he said.
This month, a partnership programme was established between the industry and the Community Policing Forums to specifically address enforcing compliance from the liquor outlets around Covid-19 safety protocols, licensing conditions, Gender Based Violence and Femicide risks and pedestrian fatalities.
Also, in support of the health system response, the alcohol industry is providing medical supplies, including PPEs to the value of R30 million to the Eastern Cape province.
“We have further invitation to support measures to raise community awareness and provide sanitisers and masks in areas around the NMB Metro. We are planning to honour this request in the coming week,” said Mngadi.
The alcohol industry seeks a social compact with the government, industry, and civil society to continue the sector’s vital economic activity, save businesses and jobs while ensuring its workers’ safety, promote responsible trading and the sensible consumption of alcohol. It has already committed R150 million to address the four specific areas prioritised in the proposed social compact: reducing the incidence of binge drinking, drink driving, and underage drinking and gender-based violence.