The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) says it will file an Urgent Access to Information (PAIA) application with the National Covid Command Council (NCCC) in order to obtain the data and evidence on which to base their decision on Extension of an alcohol-based ban for another two weeks – as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday evening.
The country will remain on the adjusted alert level 4 of Covid-19 regulations for the next two weeks, albeit with minor changes.
Restaurants can now serve guests, but cannot cater to more than 50 guests at the same time. Smaller restaurants have to reserve a maximum of 50% of their capacity. The president said the sale of alcohol is still banned.
The latest alcohol ban, in effect since June 28, has already dealt a devastating blow to the alcohol industry, putting an estimated 4,603 jobs at risk and causing a potential loss of R5.1 billion in taxes and excise duties, BASA said in a statement after the Address of the President to the Nation.
“In all of our discussions with the government, it has been recognized that the main cause of infection is large gatherings and non-compliance with mask-wearing and social distancing protocols.
“We also did not receive any data showing the link between alcohol and increased hospital admissions, although we have requested this from the government on several occasions,” it said.
BASA said it had therefore decided to file a PAIA application to understand the reasons for extending the current ban “when it is clear that thousands more jobs will be lost and billions more will be lost to the national treasury”.
The association referred to media reports that two weeks ago the cabinet decided that the currently adjusted level 4 restrictions would remain in place for 21 days and would then be reviewed.
BASA questioned its collaboration with the National Joint and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) via the National Economic Development and Labor Council (Nedlac) on the current lockdown regulations.
“If NatJoints already knew the ban would be extended, talks with the alcohol industry this week were malicious and serious questions need to be asked about the usefulness of these commitments in the future,” it said.
“The 400,000-plus livelihoods that depend on the alcohol industry simply won’t survive if the current alcohol ban continues. We just have to make sure that we are saving both lives and livelihoods during the third wave, ”said BASA.
Addressing the nation, the president said over the past two weeks the country averaged nearly 20,000 new cases a day. As of Sunday, the country had over 200,000 active Covid cases.
“Over 4,200 South Africans have lost their lives to Covid-19 in the past two weeks,” he said.
Gauteng is still the epicenter of the country and responsible for more than half of the new infections. However, cases increased rapidly in the Western Cape, Limpopo, the Northwest and KwaZulu-Natal.
“Our health system across the country remains under pressure. Daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to hit the levels seen during the peak of the first two waves. Covid-19-related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, ”he said.
SA led by expert advice
The President reiterated that the country’s response had been based on the latest available evidence and advice from experts.
“And we know that; We know that reducing the number of people being in close proximity to others helps contain infection.
“We know that the coronavirus spreads at funerals, office meetings, parties and family celebrations, as well as in restaurants, and have therefore adjusted warning level 4. We had to ban religious, social and political gatherings. We also know that the virus will move and spread with them as more people move, ”he said.
“We know curfews restrict freedom of movement and restrict nighttime social gatherings that increase transmission potential. We know that alcohol sales restrictions reduce hospital and emergency room admissions with alcohol-related trauma such as car accidents and interpersonal violence. “
He said that reducing alcohol damage will free up much-needed capacity in health facilities to deal with Covid-19 cases, adding that alcohol abuse is linked to gatherings and non-compliance with public health regulations.
“At the same time, we know and recognize the crucial contribution the alcohol industry makes to our economy,” said the president.
Ultimately, he said, the most important measures to limit transmissions are those that are under the control of the individual.
“The delta variant is more transferable. We need to be much more careful with the basic precautions we all know as we take steps to limit the numbers of infections. We act to protect as many people as possible through vaccinations. “
Read: Ramaphosa Extends Level 4 Lockdown For South Africa – Here Are The New Restrictions