The Beer Association of South Africa, which incorporates the Craft Brewers Association South Africa, Heineken and the South African Breweries, on Wednesday threatened to cut alcohol supply to establishments flouting the Covid-19 alert level 2 regulations announced by the government.
“Following recent reports of alcohol outlets breaching the level 2 lockdown regulations, the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) has committed itself to identifying establishments found breaking the law and cutting off their supply,” said BASA chief executive Patricia Pillay.
“Beer manufacturers will be requesting the details from municipalities and provincial liquor authorities of businesses whose licences have been revoked since sales resumed and will stop the supply of alcohol to them. We will continue to blacklist such businesses as part of our ongoing drive to encourage responsible alcohol distribution and consumption.”
Pillay said that while most outlets and restaurants are complying with the lockdown regulations, her organisation has been receiving reports of businesses that are selling and serving alcohol outside legal trading hours.
“We have also had reports of outlets not adhering to social distancing protocols and thereby putting the health and safety of their customers at risk. Many South Africans drink moderately and safely without any adverse impact on the public health system. But, unfortunately, there are too many people who drink in excess and endanger people’s lives,” she said.
“Together, as a society, we need to find a way of curbing this destructive cycle of alcohol abuse. It is therefore critical that all role players recognise the importance of responsible and moderate alcohol consumption during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.”
BASA said it was committed to supporting the government’s enforcement efforts against businesses breaching the lockdown regulations.
“We do this in recognition of the dangers of alcohol abuse, as well as the need for the alcohol industry to be sustainable. South Africa can simply not afford another clampdown on a sector that supports one million livelihoods,” said Pillay.
“We encourage citizens to report all incidents of criminality linked to the sale and consumption of alcohol during the lockdown by calling the toll-free hotline 0800 014 858 that has been set up by the alcohol industry and administered by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.”
She said to date the hotline has received numerous calls on businesses contravening the regulations, which have been referred to the South African Police Service and the national and provincial liquor authorities.
“The Beer Association of South Africa will continue working with government, the restaurant industry and other key stakeholders across the supply chain to come up with solutions that tackle the excessive consumption of alcohol in communities; to safeguard the 414,886 livelihoods the beer industry supports and to prioritise lives during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Pillay.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane this week wrote to restaurants which have been flouting Covid-19 alert level 2 regulations, urging them to desist.
In a statement, Kubayi-Ngubane’s spokesperson Hlengiwe Nhlabathi-Mokota said the tourism department had received several complaints about non-compliance, particularly the sale of takeaway alcohol and non-adherence to physical distancing protocols.
Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the implementation of the relaxed level 2 of the coronavirus lockdown.
The new regulations include the reopening of the restaurant industry, allowing South Africans to dine out at restaurants again and have alcoholic drinks served until 10pm.
Restaurants must now adhere to published essential safety guidelines, which include patrons filling in a health form and having their temperature checked and hands sanitised when entering. Tables must be spaced at least 1.5m apart, and for dining, companions need to wear a mask, except while eating or drinking.