Siyanda Nldovu
2 minute read
27 Jan 2021
2:13 pm

Wine industry head to court over booze ban after R8bn in losses

Siyanda Nldovu

Government has been under pressure since South Africa returned to alert level three of the national lockdown amid the second surge in Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations during the festive season.

File picture. Buying sparkling wine at the Liquor City in Karaglen, Edenvale, 18 August 2020 on the first day that liquor and tobacco sales are allowed after moving to level 2 of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Neil McCartney

Wine produce representatives, Vinpro has revealed that it will be approaching the Western Cape High Court to force the government’s hand to lift the blanket ban of alcohol.

The organisation says that the government has not been transparent in its reasons for the continued ban on alcohol.

This comes as one of South Africa’s leading vaccinologists, Professor Shabir Madhi confirmed that the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has been passed.

ALSO READ: Winter is coming with a third Covid-19 wave, warns expert as SA waits for vaccines

“Government has not been transparent with us on justifying the continued ban, nor did they give any explanation or clarity on the timeline for a review of this ban. This makes planning and contingency plans impossible,” the organisation said in a statement.

It says that industry proposals were not taken into account when the third ban was introduced despite its continued engagements with the government to curb the spread of the virus.

ALSO READ: SAB storage almost at capacity, brewers flatlining as liquor ban drags on

The industry, which also strongly relies on tourism and hospitality, now finds itself in a dire position after a ban of 19 weeks since March 2020.

“This resulted in a loss of more than R8 billion in direct sales and the possible closure of cellars and producers, threatening 27 000 jobs and putting the most vulnerable in our communities in a poverty trap which will have far-reaching socio-economic outcomes that will place an even greater strain on our healthcare system,” reads the statement.

The government has been under pressure since South Africa returned to alert level three of the national lockdown amid the second surge in Covid-19 infections and hospitalisations during the festive season.

There have been relentless questions from business owners and liquor outlet representatives as to why the sale of alcohol is still banned when the festive season is over.

ALSO READ: Festive season is over. Why are we still in lockdown? Alan Winde wants answers

Vinpro said it was relieved that the numbers of new infections, active cases, and hospital admissions were now dropping fast across the country, but particularly in the Western Cape.

“In these circumstances, the liquor ban is simply no longer justified in the Western Cape. Accordingly, to the extent that the situation does not change for the worse, and if the liquor ban is still in force in the Western Cape by 5 February, the Western Cape High Court will be asked to invalidate Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s ban in the Western Cape with immediate effect.”

The matter is set down for hearing on 5 February 2021.

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