Empowerment better than enforcement to improve Covid-19 compliance, taverners say
Lessons from combating HIV have taught SA that communication is key for Covid-19 compliance too, says the National Liquor Traders organisation.
In a statement on Sunday, it called on the government to work with business and civil society to improve compliance “rather than trying to impose top-down restrictions that have limited effect”.
This comes as the country is experiencing a third wave of the pandemic, with the epicentre being Gauteng.
“We’re very worried about the lack of compliance that we see all around us as people carry on as though there is no pandemic at all,” said NLT convener Lucky Ntimane.
“Even with the third wave intensifying and cases of Covid-19 on the rise, it’s clear that the government’s warnings have fallen on deaf ears and there’s no reason to believe that harsher restrictions will make any difference.
“Instead of talking down to people the way the government has been doing, we need to mobilise the whole of society to defeat this virus,” Ntimane said.
“We should heed the lessons of the HIV/Aids pandemic which taught us that communication and empowering people to make the right decisions for themselves is far more effective than trying to police their behaviour.”
He said tavern owners were being hosted in sessions on how to ensure maximum Covid-19 safety, including maintaining the correct social distancing and client numbers for their outlet, hygiene and sanitation protocols and mask wearing.
“We are united in the fight against Covid-19 and we are doing everything possible to keep our customers and staff safe. No-one should come to a tavern expecting to misbehave or disregard the safety protocols, we won’t accept it,” said Ntimane.
In addition to the training, and incentives offered to operators to adhere to Covid-19 protocols and liquor licence conditions, as well as to promote a culture of responsible drinking, he said the liquor industry has funded community patrollers to maintain safety and security around taverns, creating safe zones in the community.
“Taverns are inspected for compliance and those that fail to meet the standard after receiving a warning are reported to the authorities for further action.
“The liquor industry has also suspended supplies to non-compliant outlets.”
Through the alcohol industry body AWARE.org, a total of 40,000 PPE packs have been distributed to taverns, he added.