Lift the alcohol ban, beer industry urges authorities ahead of Ramaphosa address

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The three alcohol bans instituted by the government since the start of the coronavirus pandemic have already cost the fiscus about R4.5 billion in lost income from SA Breweries alone.
The three alcohol bans instituted by the government since the start of the coronavirus pandemic have already cost the fiscus about R4.5 billion in lost income from SA Breweries alone.
  • The industry estimates that the four alcohol bans have put 248 759 jobs at risk.
  • The current alcohol ban has been in place since 28 June.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation on Sunday evening.

The Beer Association of South Africa wants the National Coronavirus Command Council which is meeting today to recommend the lifting of the alcohol ban in order to prevent "a total collapse of the sector".

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCC) is meeting with the cabinet on Sunday to give an update on the Covid-19 third wave. The meeting would be followed by President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation in the evening.

The current alcohol ban under the level four lockdown has been in place since 28 June.

"With the National Coronavirus Command Council scheduled to meet cabinet today on the government's response to the Covid-19 third wave, the beer industry urges these decision makers to lift the alcohol order to prevent a total collapse of the sector."

The association which represents the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken South Africa and South African Breweries says its latest estimates reveal that the four alcohol bans, which have forced businesses to close their doors for 161 days, have put 248 759 jobs at risk and cost the country's GDP an estimated R64.8 billion.

According to the association, the craft brewing sector has been particularly hit the hardest by the bans.

"Since the start of the lockdown 27 craft breweries have been forced to shut down permanently, with a further 31 on the verge of closing if the current ban is extended," the association said in a statement.

Earlier this month, theNational Liquor Traders wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa and several ministers to seek a partial lifting of the alcohol sales ban during the Covid-19 lockdown, as well as financial relief for members of the industry who are being driven into poverty.

The beer association said on Sunday while the government recently opened the Covid-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme to businesses in the alcohol industry, the relief had come "too late for micro-breweries who received zero financial assistance over the past 16 months."

They say brewery closures have not only impacted jobs but also reversed the growth trend experienced by the craft beer sector in the past few years.

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