COVID-19: No more booze for now says Ramaphosa

PUBLISHED: Sun, 12 Jul 2020 21:10:29 GMT

Booze manufacturers are likely to be fuming as President Cyril Ramaphosa shut down South Africa’s lucrative alcohol sales for the second time this year.

President Ramaphosa is under pressure to take decisive action as the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to kill up to 50,000 South Africans and ismonths away from its peak. Already it has seen 276,242 cases – with more than 100,000 in Gauteng alone and 80,000 in the Eastern Cape – with 4079 people losing their lives.

In his address to the nation from the Union Buildings in Pretoria, President Ramaphosa said many of the cases that came into hospitals were related to the consumption of alchohol that justified a ban on sales forthwith. He said this would also be strengthened by a curfew between 9 PM and 4 AM daily. as the state of national disaster was extended to August 15.

“We have to make sure there are sufficient beds in hospital and they are not occupied by people who are there because of alcohol,”says Ramaphosa.

It is only a matter of weeks that the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted after the national lockdown of the entire economy in March.

The ban not only gave rise to a thriving black market, but also cost the drinks companies billions that it was starting to recoup with the resumption of sales.

Distell, the maker of the Savanna, Hunter’s Dry and Nederburg brands, says it saw a spike in demand as restrictions on selling of alcohol have eased. Even then volumes were down a bout a quarter year on year.

From July 1 2019 to the end of June 2020, its South African revenue was down by 18.3% and volumes by 25.6%, the liquor group said in a trading statement.

Many more losses are likely for the drinks companies in the months ahead as South Africa battles with a pandemic that looks far from over.

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