- The Liquor Traders Formation called on government to consider off-premises sale of alcohol as the country navigates the second wave.
- The group warned that a total shutdown of liquor sales would end the tavern market and the 250 000 direct jobs in the sector.
- Tutwa Consulting senior associate Azwimpheleli Langalanga said sectors hardest hit by the initial lockdown, such as hospitality, will suffer.
The Liquor Traders Formation has called on the government to consider changes to the strictest lockdown conditions articulated in the national state of disaster, as the country’s Covid-19 cases officially passed the one million mark on Sunday.
When the national lockdown was first introduced in May, industries including liquor and tobacco were brought to a standstill, applying unbearable pressure on the South African economy as movement and gatherings were also restricted or banned.
Under level three of the national lockdown, the trade of liquor and tobacco products was allowed to continue with some restrictions. The ban on tobacco was challenged legally earlier this month, where the Western Cape High Court ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and unnecessary.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Liquor Traders Formation proposed that government’s National Coronavirus Command Council consider a measured curfew that restricts unnecessary movement while protecting tourism and alcohol restrictions which provide for off-premises sales to allow consumption at home.
Convenor of the Liquor Traders Formation Lucky Ntimane said it was disappointing to learn that many South Africans have failed to follow President Cyril Ramaphosa’s warnings to limit public gatherings in the midst of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We continue to call on our liquor traders and the public at large to observe the Covid-19 regulations as it relates to the wearing of face masks at all times, sanitising and washing our hands regularly, and observing social distancing,” said Ntimane.
Ntimane urged that liquor traders be allowed to continue the off-premises sale of alcohol as the country navigates the second wave, warning that a total shut-down of liquor sales would mean an end to the tavern market and the 250 000 direct jobs linked to the sector.
Tutwa Consulting senior associate Azwimpheleli Langalanga said sectors hardest hit by the initial lockdown such as the hospitality will suffer from limits on traveling and limits to the movement of people imposed in the December period.
“If I was government, I would only adopt measures that have a direct impact on the economy as a last resort. My focus would be more on behavioural changes among the citizens to remind people of the public health,” said Langalanga.
Langalanga said South Africa did not have the luxury of putting the economy in chains and government should rather focus on getting citizens to appreciate that the virus is here to stay for a long time while getting the economy going again.