President Ramaphosa announced yesterday evening that the sale of alcohol will again be permitted on licensed premises for external consumption Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and for licensed premises for on-site consumption – such as restaurants and taverns – during the week from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The relaxation of restrictions will allow registered wineries, wine farms, microbreweries and distilleries to sell alcohol for off-company consumption during normal license periods.
The bans have left the alcohol industry on its knees, however, and it is calling on the government to work with stakeholders to find a permanently viable solution for the one million people who depend on the sector for some form of income.
Infection rate drops
South Africa announced its third alcohol ban on December 28, amid a rising number of COVID-19 cases and fears about the new variant. The government now says the country has passed the peak of its second wave, with the average rate of new infections falling over the past three weeks, and now a ton of vaccines are arriving in the country.
While industry welcomes the easing of restrictions, it has said the alcohol bans have “decimated the industry and threatened its long-term survival”. In addition to the loss of jobs, this has led to an increase in illicit trafficking and a significant decrease in economic contributions, according to a coalition of industry associations including the National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC), the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), Vinpro. the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), retailers and manufacturers.
“The industry has calculated that the decline in the excise tax contribution to the Treasury has decreased by more than 28% from R 47 billion in 2019/20 to R 34 billion in 2020/21. That R13 billion loss of alcohol tax revenue could have covered investments in vaccine procurement and other measures to contain the effects of COVID-19. If you
“The South African alcohol industry has always recognized the need to save lives, but claims that regulations could have been implemented in a more targeted and less damaging way to reduce the health system impact and mitigate transmission while helping to secure livelihoods. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the alcohol industry has taken numerous proactive measures to ensure safety at consumer touchpoints and in the retail environment. “
Going forward, the industry pledges to work with the government to ensure that companies can continue to act within the parameters of the appropriate hygiene protocols.
“The industry has always sought ways to work with the government in their decisions to ban alcohol and instead take more effective alternative measures to address alcohol abuse problems while helping to secure the livelihoods of the millions of people who depend on the industry for jobs are. The industry reiterates its call to work with the government in a collaborative and transparent commitment that enables the industry to plan its longer term sustainable future in order to secure jobs and make a positive contribution to the economy. ” If you
The alcohol ban has affected alcohol businesses across the supply chain: from owners of local taverns who rely on alcohol sales for a living; to multinational companies whose alcohol sales in the country have plummeted.
Kurt Moore, CEO of SALBA, said, “As an industry, we welcome the President’s decision to ease restrictions on alcohol sales for both on- and off-site consumption and we are extremely relieved that parts of alcohol sales are to be reopened. However, after this six-week ban that brought the industry to its knees, this development is not a quick fix for our long-term economic survival. We call on the government to work with us to find a workable solution in the future that will protect lives while safeguarding the livelihoods of around one million people who depend on some form of income from this sector. “
Rico Basson, Managing Director of Vinpro, commented: “Selling alcohol for on and offsite consumption during restricted trading hours marks the beginning of the long road to recovery for this sector, but is closed for many small businesses that have not been able to got late to weather the storm of COVID-19. With the harvest of this year’s wine, the impetus to generate sales for our existing wine inventory is all the more important if we want to secure our future. “