POLL | Should a 'vaccine passport' to buy booze be implemented in SA?

25 August 2021 - 13:00 By unathi nkanjeni
A 'vaccine passport' to buy booze could soon become a reality in SA. File photo.
A 'vaccine passport' to buy booze could soon become a reality in SA. File photo.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

You may soon need to have a  “vaccine passport” to buy booze in SA.

The proposal is due to be presented on Thursday to the National Health Council, an advisory body made up of leaders from the lower spheres of government that reports to health minister Joe Phaahla, BusinessDay reported

The publication said the SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba) was discussing the proposal as part of a broader initiative to increase Covid-19 vaccinations in the country

“Like most in business, the industry’s initial reaction has been to promote vaccination among thousands of people employed in the sector. The industry is reviewing any potential approach in supporting a broader societal agenda to encourage vaccination,” said Salba chair Sibani Mngadi.

This week, Limpopo health MEC Phophi Ramathuba revealed the province was lobbying the alcohol industry to look at several proposals, including preventing unvaccinated people from buying liquor.

Ramathuba told Jacaranda FM that her department would support any liquor outlets that wanted to refuse service to unvaccinated customers.

She said although there was no law forcing anyone to get vaccinated, the health department was trying to come up with measures to deal with Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy. 

“Our alcohol industry can get on board and indicate that they have a right to refuse to sell alcohol to someone refusing to get vaccinated because we need to balance the rights,” said Ramathuba.

“We know vaccination is not compulsory, but we as public health are saying that we are dealing with a notifiable disease which is responsible for the pandemic, closing our economy and causing havoc.”

Ramathuba also told eNCA the department cannot just “sit and fold its arms” and complain about vaccine hesitancy.

She said it was up to the liquor industry to decide whether it accepts the proposals but warned that alcohol could be banned again if a fourth Covid-19 wave hits the country.

“When we get the fourth wave, the first thing we are going to ask the president to do is to ban alcohol,” said Ramathuba. 

In the US, certain companies and tourist attractions such as Goldman Sachs, Disney, Walmart, Netflix, Facebook and Google have started mandating “vaccination passports”. 

On its site, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the vaccine mandate would apply to its US offices in the coming weeks and would be required eventually for other locations.

“Getting vaccinated is one of the most important ways to keep ourselves and our communities healthy in the months ahead,” said Pichai.

British Columbia in Canada announced on September 13 it will introduce a “vaccine passport” system for non-essential services such as entering sporting events, nightclubs, restaurants and movies. 

In France, the system came into full effect earlier this month. However, Forbes reported that thousands of citizens have protested against it. 


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