The South African alcohol industry has made recommendations to the government, through the National Economic Development and Labour Council, on alternative measures to deal with short-term pressure on hospitals during the anticipated next Covid-19 surge and increased risk of infections around the Easter weekend.
The South African alcohol industry includes but is not limited to the National Liquor Traders Council, the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba), the Beer Association of South Africa, Vinpro, retailers and manufacturers.
The industry said in a statement that it believes that measures to alleviate the impact on the healthcare system can be implemented “in a less damaging manner” that helps to mitigate transmission while still helping to preserve livelihoods.
The industry’s recommendations include responding speedily and proactively in respect of the Easter Weekend (and after that other potential hotspot areas) by reinstating the 23:00 to 04:00 curfew; reducing permitted numbers for gatherings to 50% of capacity and a maximum of 50 people indoors to 100 people outdoors.
The industry also proposes that interprovincial travel should not be prohibited to protect the economic recovery and growth in the tourism and hospitality sector and that alcohol sales continue under current licence conditions, with restrictions being introduced only if hospital capacity becomes severely stretched.
“The pandemic and alcohol bans have brought the alcohol industry and any associated problems of alcohol harm into sharp focus.
“While it is undeniable that some people have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol that could lead to harmful behaviour, to single out alcohol as the root of all trauma is wrong. Weighed against the evidence, the negative impact of a further blanket ban on alcohol seems unjustifiable,” says Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi.