The government has banned the sale of alcohol three times already
- The alcohol industry has warned that the imposition of another liquor ban will be disastrous and will end up killing some businesses
- President Cyril Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the nation on Sunday night about measures to combat the third wave of Covid-19 infections
- South Africa has seen three alcohol sales bans since the country went into its first lockdown in March last year – resulting in job losses and billions of rands in estimated lost revenue and taxes
As South Africa prepares for stricter lockdown regulations to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night, the alcohol industry has warned that the imposition of another liquor ban will be disastrous and will end up being a death knell for small businesses.
“Another ban will offer a severe blow to thousands of small businesses still trying to get back on their feet from the previous bans, resulting in even more job losses, business closures and loss in revenue for the national fiscus,” the Beer Association of SA (BASA), which represents the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken and SA Breweries (SAB) said in a statement.
“This is true for all producers, but most especially for small brewers who are currently barely surviving.”
BASA said another ban will further increase the illegal alcohol trade, which “already comprises 22% of total alcohol consumption and resulted in R11.3 billion being lost to the fiscus in 2020”.
South Africa has seen three alcohol sales bans since the country went into its first lockdown in March last year.
The first ban was lifted in June, but a second followed in July amid South Africa’s first Covid-19 wave.
When the second wave hit – fuelled by a more contagious variant – a third ban was imposed at the end of December last year.
In response, large alcohol groups have scrapped investments. SAB cancelled capital investments worth R5 billion last year, but recently said it would now invest R2 billion. Fellow beer maker Heineken cancelled R6 billion in investments – but confirmed recently that it is now in talks about a possible takeover of Distell.
BASA said the three previous alcohol bans resulted in over 7 400 jobs lost in the beer industry, R14.2 billion in lost sales revenue and more than a R7.8 billion loss in taxes and excise duties.
The industry however did say that current regulations around sales for home consumption on liquor be kept at the current restriction level of Monday to Thursday, 10:00 to 18:00, as announced by Ramaphosa on June 15 when the country was moved to a level three lockdown.
Industry bodies including Distell, the Liquor Traders Association of SA and the Restaurant Association of SA, among others, said in a letter to ministers in the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) that they supported a ban on all gatherings.
“The industry supports the prohibition of all gatherings. There is sufficient evidence that large gatherings have high likelihood to rapidly increase the number of infections.”
The bodies also recommended that taverns be allowed to sell alcohol for only off consumption during the third wave and that restaurants be allowed to serve alcohol subject to a strict curfew and a limit to the number of patrons allowed per outlet.