The South African Breweries (SAB) is very sensitive to the difficulties and plight we face as a nation in the fight against COVID-19. SAB fully understands the seriousness of this third wave and agrees that lawful and reasonable measures are needed to curb the spread of the pandemic to save both lives and livelihoods.
These measures include earlier curfew times to limit movement, reduced indoor and outdoor capacity at gatherings, heightened law enforcement and the amplification of adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions. There is no scientific link that the consumption of alcohol raises the risk of contracting COVID-19 especially if alcohol is consumed safely and responsibly in the comfort of one’s home.
SAB regrets government’s unfortunate decision to ban the sale of all alcohol for the fourth time in the last 18 months and is deeply concerned by the continued discrimination of the legal alcohol trade, resulting in a burgeoning illicit industry in the country. The current ban, which is unsubstantiated by robust scientific evidence, has been implemented at a time when the industry was already gearing itself for future stability and was ready to play its part in the country’s economic recovery.
As an organisation, SAB believes it is left with no other alternative but to defend its rights and take legal action, to protect its business and urgently overturn this decision. This move seeks to gain policy certainty, greater transparency in decision-making for the future sustainability of its business and value chain. This additional challenge does not detract from the first legal challenge instituted by SAB earlier in the year, and that challenge is still in process.
SAB and its industry partners made submissions to the NCCC, but unfortunately the recommendations were not considered and a yet another blanket ban was announced without consultation. SAB maintains its willingness to partner with government and its peers in the industry who remain committed to supporting the fight against COVID-19. SAB implores government to urgently strengthen the partnership with business to accelerate the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine – protect millions of lives and livelihoods.