South African alcohol industry proposes balancing lives and livelihood in dealing with the next COVID-19 surge

Business News

Tebogo Msimanga |

The South African alcohol industry has made recommendations to the government through Nedlac on alternative measures to deal with short-term pressure on hospitals during the next Covid-19 surge and increased risk of infections around the Easter weekend.

The industry 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 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.

Chairperson of South African Liquor Brand owners Association( SALBA) Sibani Mngadi said “the pandemic and alcohol bans have brought the alcohol industry and any associated problems of alcohol harm into sharp focus.”

Mngandi added that 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.”

“The cumulative impact of the last three alcohol bans led to a loss in sales revenue of R36.3 billion for the alcohol industry, 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.”concluded Mngandi.

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