GEORGE NEWS - The various alcohol bans during lockdown have cost the economy R51,9-billion in GDP loss, with 200 000 jobs at risk.
And yet Government chose to implement the last blanket liquor ban from 28 December to 1 February, against the advice of their own health experts.
In a press statement, the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (Salba) welcomed the publication of some of the advisory notes of the Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) that informed various decisions of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
But, Salba chairperson Sibani Mngadi said it was disturbing that Government was not using the recommendations from its own community of health experts.
The MAC recommendations for the December festive period, stated alcohol sales for off-site consumption should only be restricted to Mondays to Thursdays between 10:00 and 18:00, and wine farms and wine-tasting venues should continue to operate.
"Despite the endorsement of this by the Department of Health, the government imposed a complete ban on all alcohol sales. This had a hugely detrimental impact on the industry," said Mngadi. "Salba has repeatedly called for the reasoning behind the decisions to prohibit or limit the off and on-consumption sales and to understand better the thinking that informs restrictions of the off-consumption channel."
He said the five-week prohibition on alcohol sales imposed in late December severely impacted the tourism, hospitality and liquor industries. These sectors were already hard-hit by previous bans and other restrictions, which the government justified on "scientific" grounds to slow the spread of the virus and reduce hospital admissions.
Mngadi said the alcohol industry is committed to playing its role in the economic recovery of SA.
It seeks, in particular, a social compact with the government, industry, and civil society to promote responsible trading and sensible alcohol consumption. Open and transparent discussions on strategy and implementation should be the starting point.
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