NCCC must lift alcohol ban to prevent total collapse of the industry

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE BEER ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH AFRICA

25 July 2021

NCCC must lift alcohol ban to prevent total collapse of the industry

With the National Corona Virus Command Council (NCCC) scheduled to meet Cabinet today on the government’s response to the Covid-19 third wave, the beer industry urges these decision makers to lift the alcohol ban, which has been in place since 28 June 2021, in order to prevent a total collapse of the sector.

Latest estimates reveal that the four alcohol bans, which have forced businesses to close their doors for 161 days, has put 248 759 jobs at risk and cost the country’s GDP an estimated R64.8 billion. These figures do not take into account the recent looting of liquor outlets and distributors in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which saw R500 million worth of alcohol entering the illicit market and 332 businesses being destroyed.

When it comes to the beer industry, the craft brewing sector has been particularly hard hit by the bans. Since the start of the lockdown 27 craft breweries have been forced to shut down permanently, with a further 31 on the verge of closing if the current ban is extended. While government recently opened the Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) to businesses in the alcohol industry, this has come too late for these micro-breweries who received zero financial assistance over the past 16 months.

These brewery closures have not only resulted in hundreds of workers losing their jobs, it is also dealt a severe blow to the craft beer community which had seen major growth in recent years, helping differentiate the beer industry and increasing consumer choice.

On Thursday, the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), along with the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA), National Liquor Traders (NLT), Restaurant Association of South Africa (RASA), South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) and Vinpro (who represent the small wine producer’s and manufacturers) wrote to the NCCC requesting formal consultation ahead of President Ramaphosa’s announcement this evening.

Industry members reiterated their commitment to ensuring all outlets and establishments strictly adhered to Covid-19 regulations and health protocols in order to ensure the safety of customers. Unfortunately, the NCCC has not formally responded to this request, nor has government to date provided the data on which it has based its decision to enforce four alcohol bans since March last year.

This is why BASA, along with other members in the industry, will be submitting a Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) application to the NCCC early next week for this data. We simply cannot continue being kept in the dark by government on decisions that threaten the long-term sustainability of our industry and the one million livelihoods it supports.

BASA maintains that curfews, a ban on large gatherings, social distancing in establishments, compulsory mask wearing coupled with the roll out of a comprehensive vaccine programme, is the only way we can save lives and livelihoods during the pandemic.

Media queries:
Nicole Mirkin (Press Officer)
084 552 3122

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