PRESS STATEMENT BY THE BEER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA
27 June 2021
14 day alcohol ban will be the death knell for businesses and jobs
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) is seeking legal advice on national government’s inexplicable decision to implement a fourth alcohol ban this evening, in the interest of protecting jobs and livelihoods. As others have pointed out, there is a vaccine against COVID-19, but not against poverty. The rise in infections is a direct result of large gatherings, a lack of social distancing and the failure to wear masks – not alcohol.
We have repeatedly communicated to government how the previous three alcohol bans have devastated thousands of small businesses across the beer value chain leaving business owners, their employees and families destitute. Many more businesses will now find themselves on the brink of closure as a result of the latest 14 day ban and no financial relief being made available by government.
The fact is that the only way to overcome the pandemic and to prevent further waves of infections is for government to urgently roll-out a mass vaccination programme. In this regard, the industry has offered outlets to serve as testing and vaccination sites and for government to utilise its supply chain to transport vaccines across the country.
When it comes to preparing the healthcare system to withstand increased Covid-19 hospitalisations, BASA, along with the broader alcohol industry has contributed funding to government for the purchasing of PPE for health care workers and the establishment of the Nasrec Covid-19 field hospital in Johannesburg.
Yet, despite this, the industry continues to bear the brunt of the slow roll-out of vaccines and failures within the national health system.
On the other hand, the latest ban is cause for celebration when it comes to the illicit alcohol industry, which cost the national fiscus R11.3 billion last year alone. The prohibition of alcohol will not stop South Africans drinking. Instead, consumers will purchase their alcohol from illegal outlets, putting their health and safety at risk.
BASA remains aware of the severity of the crisis we face as nation as we battle the third wave of Covid-19 infections. It is therefore crucial that we work together to ensure that we are able to save both lives and livelihoods in this fight.
As the beer industry, we have implemented a range of interventions to encourage the moderate, responsible and safe consumption of alcohol and are committed to cutting off the supply of alcohol to those caught breaking the rules.
This includes the use of click-and-collect platforms to assist in ensuring the safety of consumers, halting of sponsored events that encourage gatherings and enhanced adherence to safety protocols at all our outlets. Along with the broader alcohol industry, BASA has also funded the placement of 500 patrollers and ex-reservists in 50 police stations across the country to support SAPS with visible enforcement on the ground this year. BASA member will also continue visiting liquor outlets to monitor their compliance with Covid-19 regulations.
BASA maintains that the current curfew should remain in effect. This, together with a ban on gatherings, increased policing and enforcement will ensure that we protect both lives and livelihoods while we fight the third wave.
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