Western Cape agriculture minister Dr Ivan Meyer calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the National Coronavirus Command Council to urgently allow the online alcohol sales and delivery under the current lockdown rules.
The wine and greater alcohol industry is on its knees after the implementation of the adjusted level 4 regulations which prohibits alcohol sales. To add insult to injury, many liquor stores have this week been looted during the riots that have swept through KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“Given the current pandemic, we have to consider innovative ways to protect lives and livelihoods within the wine sector,” Meyer says.
“I, therefore, call on the national government to allow wine and liquor to be sold online and delivered to consumers’ residences via transport or courier services. Doing so is a common-sense way to prevent gatherings but still allow sales to continue.”
According to the minister, activities within the agricultural value chain that have no immediate impact on the pandemic but do affect the prospects of future exports of the wine industry should be allowed to continue.
He touches on the transportation of wine as such an example.
“Allowing the transport of wine samples enables an essential step towards obtaining an export license. It also supports the wine industry’s ongoing endeavours to improve the quality of its wines and participate in wine competitions,” Meyer says.
“Wine is the third biggest export product of the Western Cape economy and contributes 6,5% to the province’s exports. Because of this, it is an important source of job creation in the Western Cape.”
Meyer adds that the wine industry is critical for the economic recovery of the Western Cape.
What about taverns and shebeens?
Besides Meyer’s call for the online alcohol sales to be allowed, there has also been pressure on government from the greater alcohol industry. Lucky Ntimane, convenor of the National Liquor Traders, has spoken out about the industry’s frustration with widespread anarchy and looting this week across Mzansi.
Ntimane says that the tavern owners robbed of their stock would be unable to trade when and if the ban was lifted.
“The last 14-day ban put more than 4 600 jobs at risk. More than 233 500 jobs are now on the line due to the prohibition measures.
“Their livelihoods are smashed, and the township economy – where much of the looting has occurred – has been shattered.”
Additionally, the National Liquor Traders has proposed that the government allow taverns and shebeen permit holders to sell alcohol on a takeaway basis (off-consumption) during business hours from Monday to Sunday. It has also asked to allow bottle stores to sell alcohol on a takeaway basis from Monday to Friday.