South Africa

Alcohol industry welcomes lifting of 'irrational' restrictions

Alcohol industry welcomes lifting of 'irrational' restrictions

The SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba) has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Thursday night to lift alcohol trade restrictions, saying the government has finally shown an understanding of the industry's plight.

With the move to level 1, liquor traders are permitted to sell alcohol under their normal licensing requirements before 11pm.

Alcohol may not be sold during curfew hours and consumption is not allowed in public spaces.

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.”

The association said previous restrictions had “only encouraged the illicit alcohol industry and further damaged the legitimate enterprises struggling under the weight of these irrational measures.

“It had also damaged the supply chain. The recent unemployment figures released by Stats SA could not be ignored.”

Salba CEO Kurt Moore said: “As a country we are facing record unemployment levels, with total employment in SA decreasing from 9,652,000 in March to 9,566,000 in June.

“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 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 said Salba members are actively encouraging their employees to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

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