The partial lifting on the ban of alcohol has been welcomed by industry players.
But they warn that the government will have to step in to help save thousands of businesses and jobs impacted by the renewed lockdown restrictions.
The announcement was made by President Cyril Ramaphosa this week, following a six-week ban to help reduce the number of Covid-19 infections and hospital admissions.
“As an industry, we welcome the president’s decision… and are extremely relieved that partial areas of alcohol sales are to be opened up again,” said South African Liquor Brand Association CEO Kurt Moore.
But he said the six-week ban had left the industry on its knees, and the latest development was not a quick fix for its long-term economic survival.
“We call on government to work together with us to find a workable solution going forward that protects lives, while preserving the livelihoods of around one million people who rely on some form of income from this sector,” he said.
Rico Basson, who is the managing director of Vinpro which represents 2500 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, agreed with Moore.
“The announcement has long been necessary to one of South Africa’s oldest but most significant industries which have suffered appallingly at the hands of these lockdown restrictions,” Basson said.
“Allowing the sales of alcohol for on and offsite consumption during restricted hours of trading marks the start of the long road to recovery for this sector, but it has come too late for many small businesses that have not been able to weather the storm of COVID-19.
“Additionally, with the harvest for this year’s wine underway, the impetus to create sales for our existing wine stock is all the more pertinent if we are to safeguard our future,” he said,
Ramaphosa announced that the sale of alcohol by licensed premises for off-site consumption would be permitted from Mondays to Thursdays, from 10am to 6pm.
The sale of alcohol by licensed premises for on-site consumption, including restaurants and taverns, would be permitted throughout the week from 10am to 10pm.
He has pleaded with citizens to behave.
“I want to call on all of us to drink responsibly so that we do not experience a spike in trauma cases or an increase in infections due to reckless behaviour,” he said.
“Let us remember that despite the clear progress we have made, the number of new cases is still high and there is an ever-present danger of resurgence.”
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