The pressure on the national government is increasing to lift the ban on alcohol sales to prevent a huge blow to the South African economy with thousands of job losses.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde stated that “the lift of the second ban on alcohol sales is necessary to reduce the impact of a second, equally dangerous pandemic: unemployment.”
The Liquor Industry contributes 3% to South Africa’s GDP and provides more than 1 Million jobs.
During the first alcohol sales ban at the start of the nationwide lockdown, which lasted 10 weeks, the industry lost R18billion in revenue and 100,000 jobs.
Groups representing different players in the liquor industry have been engaging with the government for weeks to lift the ban on alcohol sales, saying that the economic contribution by far outweighs the harm it causes to the health system by irresponsible drinking.
Alan Winde says that the pressure on the health system in the Western Cape has eased and they will be able to deal with the alcohol-related hospitalizations and the COVID-19 hospitalizations simultaneously.
Winde says “that we should not view our response to Covid-19 as a zero-sum game. We can ready our health-care systems to respond and provide care, and we can open our economy safely at the same time.”
“While we are seeing an easing on our health platform, the second unemployment pandemic is gaining momentum in our province, businesses that employ tens of thousands of people are buckling under continued restrictions on economic activity, low confidence and reduced demand” Winde states.