South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) expressed its support for the decision to lift alcohol trade restrictions and urged government to work with business to define a clear and detailed path to economic recovery.
Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said, “The government has finally shown its understanding for the sector’s dire plight by lifting the irrational restrictions on the sale of alcohol from retail outlets for off-site consumption on weekends.”
He pointed out that according to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the national seven-day moving average, test positivity rate and the testing rate are all falling. The NICD stated, “Nationally, we have exited the third wave according to the current definition.”
The association said the restrictions had only encouraged the illicit alcohol industry and further damaged the legitimate enterprises struggling under the weight of these irrational measures. It said it had also damaged the supply chain, and that the recent unemployment figures released by StatsSA could not be ignored.
Salba CEO Kurt Moore said, “As a country we are facing record unemployment levels with total employment in South Africa decreasing from 9,652,000 in March 2021 to 9,566,000 in June 2021. We need to curb further economic losses and start to return the economy to some level of normality.
"The alcohol bans have caused extensive job losses and income cuts within the alcohol value chain. Moreover, existing evidence indicated that the poor and those at the lower end of the earnings distribution had been disproportionately affected by the economic backlash of the pandemic, mainly among labourers, warehouse and retail staff.”
The alcohol industry reiterated its support for public education and awareness efforts to encourage vaccination and encourage behaviours that prevent infections, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and regular use of sanitisers.
Moore added that Salba members are actively encouraging their employees to take the vaccine, and it would work with all stakeholders to promote uptake of the vaccine so that we can achieve herd immunity and prevent further bans from being implemented.
“We are fully behind the Vooma Vaccination Weekend campaign and will rally our members in support,” he said.