With the country battling the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Liquor Traders (NLT) has called on government not to impose another ban on alcohol sales.
Alcohol ban alternatives
NLT convenor Lucky Ntimane on Sunday urged government to instead work with businesses and civil society to improve compliance with Covid-19 regulations. He said the organisation was “very worried” about the lack of compliance with protocols among South Africans.
“Even with the third wave intensifying and cases of Covid-19 on the rise, it’s clear that the government’s warnings have fallen on deaf ears and there’s no reason to believe that harsher restrictions will make any difference. Instead of talking down to people the way the government has been doing, we need to mobilise the whole of society to defeat this virus,” Ntimane said in a statement.
“We should heed the lessons of the HIV/Aids pandemic which taught us that communication and empowering people to make the right decisions for themselves is far more effective than trying to police their behaviour.”
Three alcohol bans
South Africa has been recording a spike in new Covid-19 cases with calls for government to tighten lockdown restrictions in a bid to reduce the pressure on healthcare facilities.
On Sunday, South Africa recorded 7 657 new Covid-19 cases along with 59 related deaths.
Ntimane said the NLT could not afford another ban on liquor sales after the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) imposed a ban on alcohol sales three times last year.
Maximum compliance safety protocols
He said the NLT had pulled out all the stops to ensure maximum compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols, and instead of simply leaving it to the government to manage the pandemic, they were being proactive.
“This model can work in other sectors too, if the government works with industry and civil society to get the message across,” he said.
Ntimane said the NLT in collaboration with provincial liquor boards will host a series of focus groups for tavern owners on Covid-19 compliance. The next session is expected to take place on Wednesday at the popular Rands tavern in Khayelitsha.
“The tavern owners will spend three hours going through the finer points of how to ensure maximum Covid-19 safety, including maintaining the correct social distancing and client numbers for their outlet, hygiene and sanitation protocols and mask wearing.
“The protocols are contained in a Western Cape Liquor Board-approved manual that serves as the Covid-19 ‘bible’ for taverners.”
Training for tavern owners
Ntimane said the fact that tavern owners, who would usually regard one another as competitors, had agreed to close their doors on a public holiday to attend the training, showed their commitment to keeping Covid-19 in check as the third wave intensifies.
“We are united in the fight against Covid-19 and we are doing everything possible to keep our customers and staff safe. No one should come to a tavern expecting to misbehave or disregard the safety protocols, we won’t accept it,” he said.