Sunday, 27 December 2020 10:35

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.

Liquor traders are pleading with the government to be allowed to continue with off-premises alcohol sales.

This as the country navigates the second wave of Covid-19 and rumours of imminent harder lockdown.

The Liquor Traders Formations called on the government, in a statement on Sunday, to work with the alcohol industry to "find solutions of mutual benefit on how to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in a manner that can safeguard the one million livelihoods that are dependent on the alcohol industry.

"We do not think that a total ban on alcohol sales will be a solution either in the short or long term in arresting the resurgence and uptick in the number of positive cases for Covid-19."

They put forward two options for consideration:

  • A measured curfew to restrict unnecessary movement of people while balancing the interests of the tourism sector which was dependent on the availability of alcohol
  • Alcohol restrictions if any, should provide for off-premises sales to allow for consumption at home and provide a special dispensation for taverns to operate as off-premises outlets with restricted hours.

Experts have warned during the course of the pandemic that alcohol-related trauma cases, such as stabbings and car crashes, place an additional burden on health-care workers and facilities when Covid-19 admissions increase in hospitals.

The alcohol industry has seen the devastating impact of the ban on the value chain. Under level 1, the sale of alcohol is allowed during the week at specific times. However, the sale of liquor is prohibited over weekends.

As of 26 December, South Africa has reported a total of 994,911 Covid-19 cases, falling just short of the 1 million mark. There were 11,522 new daily cases reported, after two record increases of over 14,000 cases on Thursday and Friday this week.

There were also 256 new deaths, taking the total to 26,521, while recoveries are now at 839,194, leaving the country with a balance of 129,196 active cases.