Liquor traders welcome the curfew extension and the increased number of patrons at on-sale outlets, but strongly oppose the exclusion of off-consumption sales over the weekend.
In a statement, (SALBA) slammed the government for its failure to justify the prolonged prohibition on off-consumption sales on Saturday and Sunday.
“We sought the help of the Ministerial Advisory Council and government officials at the National Economic Development and Labour Council. None of them has been able to provide any justification or scientific evidence to support the decision, “says SALBA chairperson Sibani Mngadi.
President Ramaphosa told the nation on Sunday that off-consumption sales would continue to be prohibited on Saturday and Sunday, as the country was moved to Level 2 under COVID-19 lockdown regulations.
Mngadi said while SALBA applauded Ramaphosa’s announcement to extend the curfew to 11 p.m. and increase the number of permitted gatherings to 250 indoors and 500 outdoors as a positive step toward the recovery of bars, restaurants, and taverns, the association expressed concern about the exclusion of off-site alcohol sales over the weekend.
“These restrictions only contribute to the growth of the illicit alcohol industry and harm legitimate businesses already struggling under the weight of these irrational measures, as well as the supply chain,” Mngadi said, adding that it is extremely concerning for the legal alcohol industry that this type of decision-making allows for additional support for organised crime.
“The fact that South Africa has 15 million unemployed people, as reported by StatsSA, cannot be overlooked. It’s the result of a series of unfortunate decisions to halt economic activity over the past year, including four entire bans on alcohol sales, “Mngadi explained.
SALBA Chief Executive Officer Kurt Moore explained that the industry’s initial focus was to support employee vaccinations, but that it will now expand to support broader societal efforts to achieve herd immunity and restore economic activity to some level of normal life.
“It is time to drive our country’s economic recovery. We must maintain the 1.2 percent marginal GDP growth rate announced by Stats SA last month.It is imperative that we assist the government in promoting the uptake of vaccinations for the loosened regulations to be successful in the long run, “said Moore.
He said the alcohol industry reaffirmed its support for educational and awareness initiatives that promote vaccination, infection prevention, wearing masks consistently, and hand sanitizing.
“The vaccination rollout has shown an amazing uptake; as of September 11th, more than 14,7 million vaccines had been administered. We applaud the Department of Health’s efforts, and we pledge to continue to support initiatives to promote immunisation,” Moore added.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported that COVID-19 infections are showing symptoms of a persistent decline trend.
As of September 11, 2021, only 5,309 new cases were recorded in South Africa by the NICD institute, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,854,234. It also revealed that the daily number of instances had dropped on a 7-day moving average.
He said the alcohol industry reiterated its support for public education and awareness efforts to encourage vaccination and encourage behaviours that prevent infections, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and regular use of sanitisers.
Mngadi said SALBA members actively encourage their employees to take the vaccine, and will work with all stakeholders to promote it.