22 April 2021
Brewers condemn government’s heavy-handed halt on alcohol sales
South Africa | It was another blow to the country’s brewers that the government decided to curtail alcohol sales over the Easter weekend – especially as they were only given two days’ notice. The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) criticised the decision, saying it is “unnecessary” and has “no valid basis”.
While on-premise alcohol sales were permitted, President Cyril Ramaphosa prohibited off-premise sales from Good Friday until Easter Monday (Family Day) – “given the role of alcohol in fuelling reckless behaviour”.
The Christmas and Easter holidays are major beer selling seasons in South Africa.
BASA complained in its statement: “We simply cannot continue to operate under the constant uncertainty that our industry has faced with every holiday, where our ability to trade is at risk of being limited with no proper justification. Currently there has been no increase in cases despite the alcohol industry being open, and there has been no increase in trauma unit cases reported to justify shutting down the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption over the Easter holidays.”
Basa comprises the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken South Africa and SAB/AB-InBev. Since March 2020, brewers have been under prohibition for 19 weeks.
Where is the scientific evidence?
BASA also questioned the basis and thinking behind the halting of off-site sales.
“There is no scientific evidence that the off-site sales of alcohol might lead to an increased spread of the virus. There is, however, ample evidence that restrictions on alcohol sales have been a boost to the illicit alcohol industry – to the detriment of government revenue and public health,” the group said.