Hospitality industry players have said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s extension of the alcohol restrictions was a missed opportunity for the government to engage with them and manage the unintended consequences of the liquor trade, including job losses.

South African Liquor Brandowners Association chairperson Sibani Mngadi said they had made a submission to the National Coronavirus Command Council requesting that e-commerce and home deliveries of alcohol be allowed on the basis that these sales channels do not pose any increased risk of infections.

“Opening some form of legal sales will reduce the increasing incidents of crime,” said Mngadi.

Beer Association of South Africa spokesperson Nicole Mirkin said: “The latest alcohol ban, which has been in place since June 28, has already served a devastating blow to the alcohol industry, putting an estimated 4 603 jobs at risk as well as potential loss of R5.1 billion in taxes and excise duties.”

Business Leadership South Africa chief executive Busi Mavuso said representatives of the alcohol and restaurant industries had shared their frustrations with her about how they have tried to consult with the government on ways unintended consequences of the alcohol ban could be managed.

“The announcement showed another missed opportunity for the government to engage with business to manage the negative fallout of the lockdown.”

Asked about some of the unintended consequences of the alcohol ban, KPMG economist Frank Blackmore said: “Alcohol sales are the tip of the iceberg.

“The large section underwater, hidden from view, includes the supplier industries for bottles, cans and other containers, agricultural ingredients, chemicals, business, transport and storage sectors and financial services etc, that would all see a reduction in their demand.”

Premier Alan Winde said the authorities should embrace innovation and work with the industry to find other ways in which operations could continue safely.

“Innovations such as allowing wine sales on wine farms and online wine sales with delivery, could help keep these businesses afloat in a safe fashion over the next 14 days,” said Winde.

Fedusa general secretary Riefdah Ajam said: “Fedusa unions in the tourism and hospitality sectors remain trapped in bitter hardships and we call on all South Africans to play their part by upholding all safety protocols, and to ensure that help is at hand for all those whose lives have been made destitute and livelihoods destroyed by the pandemic.”

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