The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) has slammed the extension of the alcohol ban and said that the current restrictions will deal an even bigger blow to many small businesses in the craft brewing sector.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday, 11 January 2021, that the current Level 3 regulations of the lockdown will still remain in place, with the exception of a few amendments. This means that the sale as well as on-site consumption of alcohol still applies, a decision which will unlikely be welcomed by the rest of the liquor sector.

According to BASA, 30% of local breweries have already had to permanently shut their doors, affecting 165 000 jobs in the sector. It added that the industry already creates 415 000 livelihoods, which are now at risk, particularly with the extension of the alcohol ban.

The contentious alcohol ban has continuously been defended as an important measure to ease the burden on the country’s already overwhelmed public health system. Healthcare workers have reported a decline in alcohol-related trauma cases, as a result of the ban.

BASA has acknowledged this but said the alcohol ban still meant people in the industry would be without jobs.

“We are well aware of the immense pressure Covid-19 has placed on our healthcare system and the need for urgent interventions to curb the spread of the virus, however, this cannot be at the expense of people’s livelihoods,” the group said in a statement.

“Our members, especially small business owners and their employees, now have no way to put food on the table, and care for their loved ones who may also fall ill”

Beer industry to meet with government over alcohol ban

The Beer group said it would soon be requesting an urgent meeting with the Presidency and various ministries to help make sense of the rationale being used for the extension of the alcohol ban and its implications for the beer sector.

“We will also resubmit our proposals to encourage moderate, responsible consumption. We will also reiterate our proposal for off-site consumption trade to be resumed within the framework of the existing curfew, restriction on gatherings and events,” it further said.

“This extended alcohol ban will be the death knell for many small craft brewers. It is a great shame that government has embarked on this action with very little consultation and very little thought given to their plight”

The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA)

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Presh JM Reporter

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