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Alcohol availability is unlikely to spread COVID-19 infections, says SALBA

Amidst the impact of the fourth wave, supposedly driven by the Omicron variant, the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association (SALBA) fears business restrictions if the proposed task team investigating the introduction of mandatory vaccination police fails to produce results.

As the media speculates that tough measures such as banning alcohol sales may be in the works, SALBA has called on the government to consider things differently this time, as the country cannot afford additional economic restrictions.

SALBA’s spokesperson, Sibani Mngadi, says the sector has expressed concerns to the government over a proposed unresponsive task team tasked with exploring the implementation of the mandatory vaccine policy, including its deadlines and objectives.

Under the National Disaster Management Act, the government is responsible for deciding on such a mandate. The Ministerial Advisory Committee should instead focus on maximizing the impact of vaccines, the main pharmaceutical intervention, rather than attempting to circumvent economic limitations. The government should focus its efforts on such matters, “said Mngadi.

Mngadi said there was no evidence that the current fourth wave had led to increased hospital admissions, especially in intensive care units, and there was no reason to continue restricting alcohol sales as in the previous prohibitions.

According to SALBA Chief Executive Officer Kurt Moore, the availability of alcohol was not the cause of an increase or decline in infections.

Another ban would only exacerbate the problem of alcohol premises being the target of robbery, as warehouses and liquor outlets have been targeted by organised gangs ever since speculation about further restrictions emerged.

A restriction would ravage the alcohol industry and its enormous industry chain and swell unemployment rates, leaving many families and communities in financial ruin.

Moore said it was hypocritical, if not irrational, that the government criticizes the UK and some EU nations for imposing travel restrictions on South Africans while doing the same thing to its own citizens.

“The liquor industry appealed to the government not to impose restrictions on a sector struggling to recover from previous regulations.” Our industry is committed to helping rebuild our economy and preparing for a post-pandemic future,” added Moore.

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