‘Let them try’ – Liquor industry raring to challenge possible Easter booze ban

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to make an announcement soon on what measures will be implemented to curb infections, with many speculating that a liquor ban is on the cards.

© viteethumb/123rf.com

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – The liquor industry has said while they were open to the amendment of restrictions to save lives; they cannot afford, nor will they accept another ban.

The sector reported that it lost about R36.3 billion in revenue due to various alcohol bans.

This was largely due to liquor-related businesses not being able to operate for 20 weeks over the last year.

READ: Restaurants appeal to govt to remain open to trade during Easter weekend

Last month, industry role players bemoaned the 8% tax increase on alcohol, as announced during Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's budget speech.

The National Liquor Traders Council's Lucky Ntimane said an outright ban would not be sustainable for the sector that's already battling to keep its head above water.

“We will not accept a ban. We will do whatever it takes to make sure that we push back against the narrative that seeks to impose a ban on the industry when all the data that we have does not support that. So really, a ban is not something that we are going to accept. Let them try, to see how we are going to react to it.”

He pleaded with consumers to abide by existing regulations around alcohol.

“The encouragement that I have for consumers is that let them continue to respect all the laws of the country.”

RESTRAINT, RESTRICTIONS AND RESPONSIBLE DECISIONS

Meanwhile, the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance said it wants government to introduce restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol over the Easter weekend.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa to address SA soon on COVID measures for Easter - Ntshavheni

Health experts and analysts have repeatedly warned that the coming religious holiday weekend will likely spur a surge in COVID-19 infections as people are expected to gather in large groups.

The organisation says the easter break is a potential catalyst for a possible third wave of COVID-19 infections.

The alliance's Maurice Smithers said tighter booze measures are needed including a ban on advertising of alcohol, increasing the price of liquor and limiting off and on-site consumption.

“There are other things that can be done as well for the whole Easter period, through reducing the container sizes of alcohol, not allowing the sales where people are offering alcohol at cheaper prices and generally looking at various other mechanisms that can be used to try and reduce the possibility of alcohol being a super spreader.”

The South African Medical Research Council's Dr Charles Parry echoed the same sentiments, saying irresponsible behaviour will be detrimental to the country’s efforts to avert a third wave.

“What is needed is restraint, and I think the government also needs to take greater responsibility for controlling the hours of sale over the periods around the Easter weekends and holidays – as that also will play a huge role in helping people to make responsible decisions. “

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to make an announcement soon on what measures will be implemented to curb infections.