Liquor traders want to meet Ramaphosa ahead of possible booze sales ban
Anxious liquor traders want to meet President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss the best response to the rising number of Covid-19 infections ahead of a possible alcohol sales ban.
The National Liquor Traders Council and the Liquor Traders Association of SA are worried that another ban could be implemented.
Lucky Ntimane, convener of the liquor traders council, said in a letter to Ramaphosa that they would like to find sustainable solutions and support government efforts to combat the pandemic in every way possible.
They want Ramaphosa and his team to engage liquor traders, especially where any decisions taken could have an impact on their businesses and to ensure that any decisions taken are guided by scientific evidence.
“We have noted with concern the increase in Covid-19 related hospitalisations and positive tests across SA, which suggest that the country faces a third wave of the pandemic and that urgent action is necessary,” said Ntimane in the letter dated May 23.
“In our view, and as we have always maintained, the rise in Covid-19 infections is a much bigger societal challenge that requires all of us — business, civic society and government — to work together to find lasting solutions.
“There is no doubt that as a country, one of the most important lessons that we have learnt from our past experiences of dealing with the pandemic, is that we can still fight Covid-19 with a less negative impact on our economy.
“In our case, liquor traders can continue to operate, subject to fully complying with safe operating standards, in a way that was not always possible previously,” he said.
Ntimane said where restrictions in economic activity are required, they should be clearly explained, with clear end dates.
This would allow businesses to plan, rather than face an open-ended disruption which was significantly more difficult to manage and led to far greater business distress and job losses.
Setting clear end dates, or at least clear criteria upon which restrictions would be lifted, was vital, he said.
“We wish to assure you that as liquor traders, we will continue to play our part in the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in the liquor trade and in the communities in which we operate.”
Ntimane said thus far, they have worked closely with the liquor industry to drive maximum compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols among taverners and their patrons.
This included hiring community policing forum members to enhance safety in and around taverns and conduct inspections to check on compliance with Covid-19 protocols and liquor licence conditions.
Ntimane's council and the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa represent township-based taverns and bottle stores across the country, a combined 39,900, which employ more than 282,000 workers, he said.
Liquor sales were banned for about 20 weeks during the early stages of the lockdown.