The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to lift the blanket ban on alcohol from 16 January, arguing that craft brewers will not make it through an extended alcohol ban.
On 28 December, Ramaphosa announced another alcohol ban for two weeks to curb the spread of Covid-19.
However, Wendy Pienaar, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Craft Brewers Association of South Africa (CBASA), said the ban on alcohol sales has had a devastating impact on the craft brewing industry, with members now in desperate need of financial relief.
According to Pienaar, the last two alcohol bans saw an estimated 7400 job losses, R14.2 billion in lost sales revenue and more than a R7.4 billion loss in taxes and excise duties.
The industry has requested that Ramaphosa not extend the blanket ban on alcohol beyond 15 January and proposes the use of click-and-collect platforms to assist in ensuring the safety of consumers.
This method will ensure that the current curfew (9pm-6am), the 8pm closing time for businesses and a ban on gatherings remain in effect.
“The third ban is devastating to craft brewers, who are small businesses owners who work within small margins, always putting the welfare of their staff before their own. It is now no longer a question of keeping businesses open – it has become a question of whether business owners, their employees and families will have any food to eat this month.
“To make things worse, these craft brewers are the very same people who stepped up during the hard lockdown last year by producing soup and stew in their brewhouses from donated vegetables to feed over two million hungry people, while also manufacturing sanitiser to help fight Covid-19. It is heart breaking to receive calls from brewers who are now in danger of losing everything. We have to stand together to find alternative solutions to the outright ban on the sale of alcohol.
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“BASA remains committed to working with government to ensure the safe and responsible trading and consumption of liquor and we have proposed a number of measures to save lives without sacrificing livelihoods.
“It is critical that government and the industry work together to come up with solutions to tackle alcohol abuse in communities, prevent the spread of Covid-19 while ensuring we safeguard businesses and livelihoods across the value chain,” said Pienaar.
BASA is comprised of CBASA, Heineken South Africa and South African Breweries.