Easter rules are needed, say liquor makers – but don’t ban booze until hospitals get full

  • Easter weekend, and a potential third wave of coronavirus infections, requires swift action, says the alcohol industry.
  • That should not include any restrictions on alcohol sales again, though, not unless hospitals get full again.
  • It is also pre-emptively arguing against restricting inter-provincial travel again.
  • Instead the government should impose as longer curfew, and restrict gatherings to fewer people again, booze makers say.

South Africa needs a “swift response” before a potential third wave of coronavirus infections, groups representing much of South Africa’s liquor trade say – but that should not include any bans on the sale of alcoholic drinks.

Instead the government should lengthen curfew, and reduce the number of people allowed to gather, ahead of Easter weekend.

Restrictions on liquor, on the other hand, should be reserved “only if hospital capacity becomes severely stretched”, said the groups in a joint statement.

Between them, the bodies represent makers of beer, wine, and spirits, as well retailers. These businesses have lost revenues of R36.3 billion during South Africa’s last three alcohol bans, the organisations say, “putting 200,200 jobs at risk in the nation’s informal and formal economy.”

“A further ban would cause irreversible damage to small and medium sized businesses that would be unlikely to survive. Meanwhile, the illicit trade has taken root and is building momentum, and this poses an enormous risk to society in the longer term.”

They have also urged against closing down interprovincial travel.

Instead their recommendations to Nedlac include going back to a curfew that starts at 23:00 instead of the current midnight, and limiting gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

News24 this week reported that science advisors had recommended the National Coronavirus Command Council put South Africa back on Alert Level 2 for the Easter holidays.

Significant debate is understood to be ongoing about the size of church gatherings that should be allowed, or banned.

There has been no official word on the likelihood of a harder lockdown, nor of plans to limit alcohol sales in any way.

Reprinted from Business Insider SA, by Phillip de Wet – 2021-03-26


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