BASA takes no-nonsense approach over the festive season

PRESS STATEMENT BY PATRICIA PILLAY  CEO OF THE BEER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA

14 December 2020

BASA takes no-nonsense approach over the festive season to safeguard lives and protect 415 000 jobs

With national government having confirmed that the country has entered a second wave of Covid-19 infections, the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) will continue rolling out extensive interventions to ensure the trade and consumption of alcohol continues under the strictest safety conditions over the festive season. 

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, R14.2bn in lost sales revenue and more than R7.4bn 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.

It is therefore critical that we all play our part in flattening the curve and to avoid our health services becoming overwhelmed over the festive season. 

BASA will continue working with government, the broader alcohol sector and partners in the tourism and hospitality industry – including SA Tourism, the Restaurants Association of SA, the Liquor Traders Association of SA and the Consumer Goods Council of SA – to drive interventions that ensure alcohol is sold and consumed under the strictest safety conditions, taking into account social distancing and health protocols. 

To ensure businesses are compliant, BASA members have providing training and guidelines to outlets across the country, including the roll-out of 50 000 educational posters to establishments. Members have also visited businesses across the country to ensure they are compliant. These oversight visits will continue over the festive season.

BASA members have also partnered with other role players to launched a number of ‘click-and-collect platforms that allow customers to place their orders online or via SMS and pick up their purchases at a designated time, and in this way minimise crowds at outlets. Two of these platforms are the Firsti USSD click and collect service that allows customers to buy their beer from their local tavern over SMS by simply dialing *120*464# and the Hola Club Click & Collectwebsite and app.

The beer industry will maintain its zero-tolerance approach towards non-compliant businesses by cutting off supply to those outlets and establishments that have had their licences revoked by provincial liquor authorities. 

We will also continue promoting the toll-free hotline (0800 014 856), which citizens can call to report incidents of criminality linked to the sale and consumption of alcohol. We encourage consumers to call the hotline to report businesses who are not enforcing social distancing and failing to ensure the health and safety of customers, so these establishments can be reported to the relevant enforcement authorities for further investigation. 

Furthermore, BASA members remain committed to assisting government in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In this regard, South African Breweries has contributed R15 million to the South African Solidarity Fund. Beer manufacturers have also donated PPE for hospitals and frontline health workers and will continue with these donations to provincial health departments over the festive season. 

However, preventing the further spread of Covid-19 must be the first priority, and so we call on all liquor outlets and establishments to continue playing their part by enforcing the wearing of masks and social distancing in their establishments. We also call on consumers to drink in moderation and continue taking the necessary precautions to protect themselves and others from Covid-19 while enjoying their holiday. This includes wearing their masks, continuously sanitising their hands and avoiding large social gatherings. Finally, we urge all South Africans not to drink and drive. 

Together, lets ensure that sanity prevails throughout all touchpoints with beer over the festive season. This is the only way we will be able to avoid another hard lockdown, protect lives during the second wave and safeguard the economy and jobs.

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