Molefe Seeletsa
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
14 Dec 2020
12:33 pm

Alcohol industry unsure over potential ban ahead of Ramaphosa address

Molefe Seeletsa

The industry has reiterated that it cannot afford a total ban on liquor sales, warning government of the dire economic impact due to likely job losses. 

Customers shopping for liquor on 18 August 2020. Picture: Michel Bega

As Covid-19 cases rise across the country, rumours of a potential ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol have heightened with President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation on Monday evening.

During a press conference on Monday morning, Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) chief executive officer (CEO) Patricia Pillay said while the alcohol industry remained unsure whether alcohol would be banned again, it intends to ensure that alcohol is sold and consumed under the strictest safety conditions as the country experiences a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Pillay reiterated that the alcohol industry could not afford a total ban, warning government of the dire economic impact due to likely job losses in the industry.

WATCH LIVE: President Ramaphosa to address SA at 8pm

“While it is imperative that we do all we can to stop the spread of Covid-19 during the upcoming holiday period, it is also critical that we safeguard the close to 415,000 jobs that depend on the beer industry as well as the one million livelihoods that are supported across the alcohol value chain.

“The previous alcohol bans and prolonged restrictions on the trade of alcohol saw an estimated 7400 jobs lost, R14.2 billion in lost sales revenue and more than R7.4 billion loss in taxes and excise duties in the beer industry alone.

“The craft brewery sector was particularly hard hit, with 30% of breweries shutting their doors and those that managed to stay open being forced to retrench staff, resulting in hundreds of jobs losses. Those businesses that managed to survive can simply not afford another ban or further trade restrictions,” she said.

ALSO READ: Eastern Cape government and alcohol industry collaborate to curb the rise in Covid-19 cases

SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona revealed that the tourism industry would only recover from the consequences of the pandemic and lockdown in two to three years.

“For us to go back to the tourism levels of 2019, we need at least two years to get there. However, we need to drive domestic travel at this time,” he said.

Ntshona further appealed to establishment owners to not cut “safety regulation” corners.

Meanwhile, South African Breweries (SAB) corporate affairs manager Heidi Bartis noted during the conference that brewery had been paying close attention to the rising Covid-19 numbers in the Eastern Cape.

“We have committed to donating R30 million in personal protective equipment [PPE]. We are dispatching patrollers who will ensure that establishments comply with Covid-19 regulations,” she said.

ALSO READ: Alcohol ban not on the cards – yet

Liquor Traders Association convener Lucky Ntimane called upon alcohol traders to comply with the regulations to protect their businesses and livelihoods in the industry.

Ntimane also urged consumers to call the hotline for traders and customers to report any breach of the regulations and also the Consumer Goods Council hotline (0800 014 856).

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