The country’s liquor traders are on edge, and have pledged their support for government’s effort in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, amid fears of another ban on booze sales.
In a statement released early on Sunday morning, the Liquor Traders Formations said they commit themselves to the fight against the virus, and warn against another shutdown of the industry, as seen under levels five and four of the National Coronavirus lockdown earlier this year.
They say they have been made to believe that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) would be sitting on Sunday to consider various interventions, following several days of record-breaking infection increases across the country.
The NCCC will allegedly discuss proposed interventions related to gatherings, inter-provincial travel, curfew, alcohol sales and international travel.
The Liquor Traders Formations appear to be pre-empting any talk of another liquor shutdown with their statement, in which they plead with government to “be allowed to continue the off-premises sale of alcohol as the country
navigates the second wave”.
They also warn that another total shutdown of liquor trade would be the death of the tavern market, “and the 250 000
direct jobs linked to the sector”, while requesting that the industry should be consulted before any restrictions are decided on.
“The Liquor Traders Formations express their unwavering commitment to support the Government’s
efforts in the fight against Covid-19 and the second wave of the pandemic which has taken hold over
the past weeks,” the statement from Lucky Ntimane, the formations’ convener, reads.
“Our commitment of support has been met with action as we embarked on a high impact programme in our communities to change the behaviour and attitudes of our patrons, consumers and the communities at large towards compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
“We call on our Government to continue to work with the alcohol industry to find solutions of mutual
benefit on how to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner that can safeguard the 1 million livelihoods that are dependent on the alcohol industry.”
The industry said they do not believe another liquor trade ban would hold any benefits in stopping the surge of the virus, and have instead suggested the following options:
- A measured curfew that restricts unnecessary movement of the general public whilst balancing the interests of the tourism sector which is dependent on the availability of alcohol;
- alcohol restrictions if any, should still provide for off-premises sales to allow for consumption at home and provide a special dispensation for taverns to operate as off-premises outlets with restricted hours
Ntimane said “As liquor traders we have observed with disappointment the lack of adherence to the control measures by some who have conducted themselves in a manner not befitting of patriotic South Africans. They have failed to heed a call by the President to behave in a manner that helps the country fight the second wave of the pandemic.”
- Compiled by Earl Coetzee