The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) has announced that it was seeking legal advice on the national government’s decision to implement a fourth alcohol ban.
The association said the legal advice would be in the interest of protecting jobs and livelihoods.
“As others have pointed out, there is a vaccine against Covid-19, but not against poverty. The rise in infections is a direct result of large gatherings, a lack of social distancing, and the failure to wear masks – not alcohol,” it said.
Basa said it had repeatedly communicated to the government how the previous three alcohol bans had devastated thousands of small businesses across the beer value chain, leaving business owners, their employees and families destitute.
“Many more businesses will now find themselves on the brink of closure as a result of the latest 14-day ban and no financial relief being made available by the government,” Basa said.
According to Basa, to overcome the pandemic, the government needed to roll out a mass vaccination programme urgently.
“The industry has offered outlets to serve as testing and vaccination sites and for government to utilise its supply chain to transport vaccines across the country,” it said.
The association said while the alcohol industry has contributed funding to help fight the pandemic, it continued to bear the brunt of the slow roll-out of the vaccines.
The association also warned that the alcohol ban would not stop South African’s from drinking, instead, consumers will purchase their alcohol from illegal outlets, putting their health and safety at risk.
“As the beer industry, we have implemented a range of interventions to encourage the moderate, responsible, and safe consumption of alcohol and are committed to cutting off the supply of alcohol to those caught breaking the rules,” it said.
Basa said that the current curfew should remain in effect.
“This, together with a ban on gatherings, increased policing, and enforcement will ensure that we protect both lives and livelihoods while we fight the third wave,” Basa added.