The National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) says the suspension of the sale of the alcohol under lockdown Level 3 is “not the answer.”

NLTC, which represents over 50 000 business owners, argues that the suspension of the sale of alcohol cannot be the answer. “+200 000 dependents and up to 1 million people that are part of the liquor industry value chain will be at economic risk should the ban on alcohol be introduced,” reads in part the statement by the NLTC.

The council says 10 000 taverns have already closed permanently and another 12 500 taverns are barely getting by, which represent 25% of taverns that are in distress and cannot survive another week of non-trading.

It adds that “The impact of another hard lockdown will only grow these numbers further and deal a deadly blow to the only township economy still in the hands of black South Africans.”

Full statement below:

 

Sale of alcohol banned

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the sale of alcohol would be suspended with immediate effect as a measure to reduce the load on the healthcare system that is already under pressure with the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) infections.

President Ramaphosa announces the ban of alcohol sale under lockdown Level 3:

As of Sunday, 276 242 COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the country. With more than 12 000 cases consistently being reported daily over the last couple of days, Ramaphosa says this means there are now 500 infections every hour in South Africa, which has pushed the government to consider adjusting the Level 3 regulations.

COVID-19 relief fund

The council further lamented not being taken into consideration while deciding on government’s COVID-19 relief fund. “No state support is being discussed or has been put forward for these small business owners that have operated within the boundaries of the law and their licenses even though they have adhered to the requirements of the lockdown at a great personal loss to themselves and their livelihoods. It is as though tavern owners are less than other small businesses.”

‘Drinking parties’

Addressing South Africans on Sunday evening, the President said he is aware of cases where people organise drinking parties, visit family and refuse to wear masks – in direct violation of government directives.

“In some cases, some people go to funerals where more than 1 000 people are in attendance. This is how the virus is spread through carelessness and through recklessness. It is concerning that many are downplaying the seriousness of this virus despite all evidence to the contrary and what we have cautioned about on numerous occasions.”

In the video below, political parties and analysts react to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech:

‘Marshall Plan’

The DA rejects the ban on family visits, saying it fundamentally undermines the right to dignity and “goes to the heart of what makes us human.”

“How can it be legal to visit a casino or a church service with 49 other people, but illegal to see one’s own family?”

The party says South Africa needs a Marshall Plan to build treatment and prevention capacity. “Government must have the humility to ask the private sector for help and must learn from what is working in the Western Cape,” the party says.