Statement by the alcohol industry on the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa

by | Mar 23, 2020 | Covid-19

We – the undersigned organisations representing manufacturers and suppliers of alcoholic beverages in South Africa – are collectively concerned about the outbreak of COVID-19 globally and in our country, South Africa.

We are gravely worried about the impact that this outbreak has already had on the personal health and wellbeing of the people of our country and the world. The outbreak of COVID-19 brings with it a significant negative economic impact on what was already a very constrained economic climate in South Africa. We would like to play our role in minimising the impact on the people of SA and help to drive economic recovery into the future.

As the industry, we fully support the measures taken by Government to contain the spread of COVID-19, including the declaration of the State of Disaster by the President under the National Disaster Management Act.

As an industry with thousands of people in our employ, one of our immediate interventions against the outbreak of COVID-19 has been to protect the health and welfare of our employees and their families. Wherever possible and practical, office-based employees have been allowed and encouraged to work from home or remotely to minimise exposure to potential infection.

In production, logistics and other areas where remote work is not possible, we have put in place protocols for infection control, detection and management of all suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19. We have in addition, instituted ‘temperature testing’ at our sites.

We support the decision taken by Government under the National Disaster Act to restrict hours for the sale of alcohol to between 09h00 and 18h00 from Monday to Saturday and to between 09h00 and 13h00 on Sundays and public holidays as well as the limitation of number of people to less than 50 per outlet.

This is, but one of the measures that should limit social contact and potentially contribute to reducing the rapid spread of the virus. In that regard, we will as much as possible support our customers to comply with the newly promulgated regulations for sale of alcohol.

Many of our brands sponsor sports, entertainment and other social events in SA. We have cancelled events where there could have been more than a 100 people, in line with the presidential directive for social distancing.

Our experiential and product tasting facilities that contribute to encouraging local tourism have been closed.

We also support measures to increase awareness and modify behaviours that increase the possibility of infections. We have sent communication to traders to:

  • Encourage social distancing during the limited hours of trade.
  • Raise awareness of the risks and discourage mouth-to-mouth sharing of drinks containers, glasses/cups and/or eating utensils.

Furthermore, our Easter season campaign against drinking and driving led by AWARE.ORG in partnership with RTMC will integrate the messaging on COVID-19 to further raise awareness.

Outside of the stipulated trading hours for on-trade, home consumption remains the safe preferred option for many consumers who would like to have a moment to enjoy alcoholic beverages in a responsible manner. We would like to work with government to ensure the security of supply of both

locally produced and imported beverages. The same collaboration is needed for stability of export activities as South Africa is a net-exporter of alcoholic beverages and a major contributor to global supply of particularly wine.

Recognising the acute shortage of pure alcohol to produce hand and surface sanitisers, local pure alcohol producers have agreed to make at least 40 000 litres of 96% pure alcohol available to help meet the demand for production of alcohol based sanitisers which are desperately needed in hospitals and households.

We strongly believe that through informed, decisive leadership, and collaboration across sectors, that we will be able to turnaround the spread and the impact of COVID-19 in our country. We are always committed to responsible commercial conduct, but more especially now when our country needs us most.

We hereby pledge to stand with the Government and people of South Africa in a national response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Issued jointly by the following organisations representing member-companies in beer, spirits and wine:

  • South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA)
  • Beer Association of South Africa (BASA)
  • Vinpro

Contact Kurt Moore (CEO | SALBA) | 082 785 6464 | kmoore@salba.co.za

Contact Sibani Mngadi | Corporate Affairs Director: Diageo and Industry Spokesperson | 072 616 5517 | sibani.mngadi@diageo.com

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