South Africa's alcohol has welcomed the announcement by the Government to resume the trading and distribution of alcohol and place the entire country on Alert Level 2, with effect from midnight on Monday, 17 August 2020.
The industry said it is now looking forward to working across the value chain to ensure the sector is able to begin to rebuild and to make its valuable contribution to the revival of the country’s economy.
It has committed to partner with Government to save businesses and jobs in the sector while ensuring its safety, responsible trading, and the sensible consumption of alcohol during its joint effort to fight against the pandemic and to begin to rebuild the economy.
Patricia Pillay, CEO of the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), commented, “We absolutely understand the Government was caught between a rock and a hard place: getting the balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods. We will work with all stakeholders to ensure the sector gets back on its feet, that social awareness programmes around harm reduction are ramped up, and that we start the process of rebuilding the country’s economy.”
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Addressing transmission risks and encouraging responsible drinking
Kurt Moore, CEO of the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), said the alcohol industry and business representatives entirely support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call “to put in place the practices and forms of behaviour that we must continue to adopt for some time to come”.
Moore said industry stakeholders had met Health Minister Zweli Mkhize last week to discuss lifting the ban, as well as aspects related to enhancing the social compact between the industry, government and civil society/community. During these discussions, the industry acknowledged the challenges facing the Government in its efforts to stem the pandemic.
“The liquor industry confirmed it is willing to ensure enhanced resources, including funds, people and time, are available to assist the Government in dealing with the burden on the public healthcare system. It will also help ease the pressure on healthcare facilities and to assist with the distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE), leveraging our extensive distribution and retail networks nationwide in support of efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19,” said Moore.
“We also reiterate our commitment to work with the Government to implement health and safety protocols addressing Covid-19 transmission risks across the value chain and ensure that the industry reopens safely and efficiently.”
Lucky Ntimane, Convener of the National Liquor Traders Council, said its network of some 34,000 taverners across the country is ready to get back to business. "We will continue to roll out innovations such as the 'click-and-collect' apps to help reduce queues, improve social distancing, and make it safer for consumers to order and collect their purchases," he said.
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Rico Basson, CEO of VinPro, said the industry is committed to ramping up its social awareness programmes and behavioural change interventions. These efforts include vigorous responsible messaging and a mass communication campaign aimed at helping communities in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.
“We reiterate our commitment to partner with the Government to create a social compact that drives behavioural change regarding the use and consumption of alcohol,” he said.
“We call for the establishment of a national multi-stakeholder forum with Government and civil society to focus on identifying and prioritising problem areas – based on research and credible current data – and jointly designing interventions targeting these key areas with enhanced current programmes and new measurable and evidence-based initiatives.”