The alcohol industry welcomes general move to level 3 but awaits details

by | May 25, 2020 | Covid-19

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday evening, 24 May 2020, saying the country’s lockdown status would shift to level 3 as of 01 June 2020.

“Cabinet has determined that the alert level for the whole country should be lowered from level 4 to level 3 with effect from 1 June 2020,” said the President, and said, “Alcohol may be sold for home consumption only under strict conditions, on specified days and for limited hours.” The President confirmed that details would be made available following further discussions with the sector.

South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA) CEO, Kurt Moore said, “The industry welcomes the move that will result in an “opening up of the economy”.  Moore cautioned, however, that compressed operating hours could lead to over-crowding at outlets when consumers are allowed to purchase alcohol after the nine-week ban on the legal trade of alcohol.

“Industry associations, SALBA, the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) and VinPro have worked tirelessly with the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition and presented several proposals. These included safety protocols for the off-consumption and trading of alcohol, including e-commerce, and also addressed transmission risks across the value chain and solutions to enable the safety of the workforce, suppliers, retailers, and consumers. We look forward to ironing out the details.”

Vinpro CEO Rico Basson said players in the alcohol industry have been operating for more than eight weeks with zero income revenue but had remained committed to ensuring the industry gets back on its feet.

“An estimated 117,600 jobs have been lost throughout the industry and 13% of the craft beer sector is in the process of shutting up shop, while the wine industry is in severe distress,” he said. “As an industry, we are willing to participate in consultation with government to provide proposals that help to reopen the alcohol industry further and begin to reconstruct the country’s economy to protect the livelihoods of one million people employed throughout the value chain.”

BASA CEO Patricia Pillay said the industry had made a strong argument for government to especially grant off-consumption trading licenses to the licensed taverns as well as the microbreweries.

“We want taverns and microbreweries to be able to trade legally and safely,” said Pillay, “A ‘click and collect’ model has been developed with taverns to ensure social distancing stipulations are followed. We have been in discussions with tavern associations, and they have committed to ensuring adherence to health and safety regulations, as well as social distancing at all times. These all form part of our educational and training initiative aimed primarily at the 34,500 tavern owners to ensure they provide a safe environment in which to trade.”

Part of the support for taverns included supplying the free personal protective equipment packages, including sanitisers, masks, gloves, as well as education and training material to meet strict COVID-19 safety protocols.

Issued by FTI Consulting on behalf of the Liquor Industry
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