Alcohol industry announces measures to reduce Covid-19 spread in South Africa

South Africa’s alcohol industry plans to reduce advertising and stop events in a bid to curb the country’s second coronavirus wave.

In a joint statement from the South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) and a number of other associated groups, the industry said that it supports the government’s measures to reduce the spike in coronavirus infections.

“During the festive season, the sector has, therefore, decided to withdraw support for, or associating its brands with naming rights for major entertainment events for which an events licence is required,” it said.

“Further, its members will not become involved in or associate themselves with activities that have the potential of attracting crowds that exceed the regulation restricting capacity of 50% of the outlet.”

The National Disaster Act regulations for Lockdown Level 1 further restricts the number of patrons to 250 people in an indoor setting and a maximum of 500 people at an outdoor occasion.

The alcohol industry further called on consumers, customers, event organisers and all interested parties to avoid gatherings that do not conform to the required and necessary Covid-19 health and safety regulations.

These include:

  • Wearing facemasks covering your nose and mouth;
  • Sanitizing and/or washing your hands regularly;
  • Maintaining 1.5m social distancing—if you are at a venue where social distancing is being ignored or is impossible, leave;
  • On-trade partners must conduct temperature checks on patrons’ arrival and ensure they are registered.

Chairperson of SALBA, Sibani Mngadi, said that the country could not afford to have further ‘super-spreader’ events.

“The summer season is a time for social gatherings, celebrations and attending events, which can be “super-spreader” events and carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus.

“As a nation, we simply cannot afford this. Let’s work together to limit the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption and ensure a safe and responsible environment for all,” said Mngadi.

Further restrictions? 

South Africa’s restaurant industry says it is currently in talks with the government about the on-site sale of alcohol over the December holiday period.

The Restaurant Association of South Africa (Rasa) said it has been asked to survey the position of each restaurant regarding on-site alcohol sales, and outline the measures they will put in place to increase the level of compliance to Covid-19 prevention protocols in establishments.

This comes after concerns were raised in a ‘scientific document’ presented to the government that on-site consumption will be a high risk to Covid-19 prevention methods through the festive season.

The association’s Wendy Alberts said that Rasa has requested to see the evidence presented in the document, and noted that government should not confuse societal problems with Covid-19, and should avoid putting the responsibility of alcohol abuse on the restaurant industry.

“I will continue to demand the scientific evidence so we can properly address where exactly the apparent risk sits.

“We have approved protocols in place and now we have been called without notice to urgently supply a solution with no sight of what the exact risk is. Government has had months to talk to us and now, on-demand, want a solution,” she said.

Read: Fears of ‘blunt’ lockdown as South Africa reports another big increase in coronavirus cases

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Alcohol industry announces measures to reduce Covid-19 spread in South Africa