Fourth alcohol ban will 'be the end' of the tavern sector, liquor traders warn

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Liquor traders have warned against a fourth alcohol ban (Getty).
Liquor traders have warned against a fourth alcohol ban (Getty).
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  • Ahead of the Easter weekend, the Liquor Traders Formation says a fourth alcohol ban cannot be justified and it will have devastating effects on the tavern sector. 
  • The alcohol industry is still recovering from almost 19 weeks of non-trading as a result of lockdown restrictions.
  • However, scientists and government officials have warned of a third wave of Covid-19 infections, possibly shortly after the Easter weekend.

A fourth alcohol ban would "be the end" of the tavern sector, the Liquor Traders Formation has warned.

The organisation on Saturday issued a statement, warning against "talk" of yet another ban.

It said the industry had still not fully recovered from the previous three bans.

"The alcohol industry is yet to recover from the almost 19 weeks of non-trading that we had to endure since lockdown began," the statement read.

News24 previously reported the National Coronavirus Command Council has been advised, by the Ministerial Advisory Committee, to put the country under Alert Level 2 ahead of the upcoming Easter weekend. Among the possible restrictions advised include extended curfew hours, smaller gatherings and restrictions on alcohol sales to certain hours, News24 reported.

Scientists and government officials have warned of a third wave following the Easter break.

"If this unfortunate talk is followed by an announcement of yet another alcohol ban by the president it will certainly be a confirmation on his part to say he doesn't care about the livelihoods of taverns and shebeen permit holders and that their plight is something he couldn't care less about," said Lucky Ntimane, the convener of the Liquor Traders Formation.

The statement highlighted that the alcohol industry supported more than one million jobs, as well as more than 34 500 township businesses.

Ntimane said the tavern sector was willing to support the government when the lockdown was first instituted in March last year, in order to curb the spread of Covid-19. However, the industry has lost almost 133 trading days and thousands of jobs have been shed.

"There could never be a reason to justify a fourth ban. Any reason that seeks to advance a narrative to ban alcohol ought to appreciate the dire consequence of such a ban especially on the tavern sector and the 250 000 jobs it support," the statement read.

The organisation also accused the government of failing to consult with the alcohol industry in order to reach a sustainable solution.

"The continued failure by government to consult with the alcohol industry in finding ways to balancing the issue of saving lives and livelihoods will fast-track the decimation of the tavern sector with history being the only source of reference of what was once the pride of township business - taverns and shebeens.

"Tavern livelihoods matter and it is about time that this government embraces this reality."

SA Breweries (SAB) on Friday issued a separate statement, warning restrictions on trading hours of alcohol over the upcoming long weekends - especially on Fridays and Saturdays - would "put thousands of small businesses at a serious disadvantage".

SAB wants the government to partner with the industry in finding solutions, as opposed to implementing reactive regulations.

The beer industry in particular lost R36.3 billion in sales revenue and more than 200 000 jobs were shed due to the previous restrictions on liquor sales.

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