For the fourth time since the pandemic started last year, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has imposed a complete prohibition on the sale of alcohol for the next 14 days. The country moved from alert level 3 to level 4 last nightfor the first time in more than a year afterthe total number of laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases narrowed the 2 million mark with more than 13,000 officially reported new cases every day.Infections are being driven by the Delta variant, which was first identified in India last year and is more contagious and lethal than other formerly detected variants of the virus.
The last alcohol ban was imposed in December after a surge in COVID-19 infections had pushed South Africa’s total confirmed virus cases past 1 million. (inside.beer, 28.12.2020)
“We are in the grip of a devastating wave that by all indications seems like it will be worse than all those that preceded it, its peak looks set to be higher than the previous waves,” the president said. “The measures we are putting in place now are designed to allow as much economic activity to continue as possible while containing the spread of the virus.”
Next to the ban on alcohol sales the measure include a nightly curfew from21h00 to 04h00, a closure of taverns, shebeens, bars, and restaurants – except for off-site consumption; schools; gyms and fitnesses centres; casinos; theatres and cinemas; museums; conference facilities; and older persons residential facilities. The president also announced the prohibition of all gatherings except at funerals, the workplace or when buying goods or services, and restrictions on leisure travels to and from Gauteng. The province of Gauteng is the commercial hub of South Africa and includes the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg.The region accounts for the majority of new COVID-10 cases (59%).
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) said, it is seeking legal advice on the new government measures. The organization argues that “the rise in infections is a direct result of large gatherings, a lack of social distancing and the failure to wear masks – not alcohol.”
“The prohibition of alcohol will not stop South Africans drinking. Instead, consumers will purchase their alcohol from illegal outlets, putting their health and safety at risk,” BASA added in its statement.
“The previous three alcohol bans have devastated thousands of small businesses,” the association said. “Many more businesses will now find themselves on the brink of closure.”
In May, it became known that Heineken had approached Distell Group Holdings, headquartered in Stellenbosch, South Africa, to buy a majority stake in Africa’s leading producer and marketer of spirits, wines, ciders and ready-to-drinks. (inside.beer, 18.5.2021)