According to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD)’s Daily Hospital Surveillance Report, the number of active Covid-19 cases across the country has dropped over the last two weeks, in some cases by more than 50%. The recent report states “all provinces reported a decrease in weekly incidence risk” ranging from a 22.9% decrease in the Free State to 47.3% decrease in KwaZulu-Natal and up to 50% in the Western Cape.
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association said this is yet another reason why the Government should lift the prohibition on alcohol. Sibani Mngadi, Chairperson of SALBA, said the drop in infections was good news for the country and provides Government with an opportunity to urgently reverse its decision to prohibit alcohol sales.
In the Western Cape over the past two weeks, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the Western Cape declined by more than 50%, dropping from about 40 000 to around 19 000 cases. Similarly, the number of daily hospitalisations amongst facilities reporting, in week 2 and 3 also dropped from 3 125 to 735 (76.5% decrease).
In Gauteng, the drop in the number of daily hospitalisations was from 3 838 to 1 190 (69% decrease)
In the Eastern Cape, the drop in the number of daily hospitalisations was from 968 to 326 (66% decrease)
In KwaZulu Natal, the drop in the number of daily hospitalisations was from 2505 to 852 (66% decrease)
“Available data does not back Government’s argument that the current prohibition of sale of alcohol is being maintained to preserve the maximum capacity in the health system to handle a surge in COVID-19 admissions,” said Mngadi.
Mngadi added that it was now time for the Government to roll back the prohibition to limit further losses of jobs and revenue for the sector.
“With the first two bans, alcohol excise tax contribution to government declined by more than 28% from R47 billion in 2019/20 to R34 billion in 2020/21. This R13 billion loss in alcohol tax revenue could have easily compensated for the investment needed in procurement of vaccines and other measures needed to curb the impact of COVID-19 on our society,” said Mngadi.
The industry has always sought ways of collaborating with the Government to re-examine the reasons for banning alcohol and applying more effective alternative measures that address the issues of alcohol misuse while maintaining the livelihoods of the million people whose jobs are dependent on the industry.
He reiterated that the alcohol industry continues to seek 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.