New push to relax South Africa’s alcohol ban at provincial level
The Western Cape Government cabinet says it will push for the safe opening of all businesses and the domestic sale of alcohol, together with smart interventions.
The provincial government acknowledged that the number of trauma cases declined when alcohol sales were banned in the country, but it cautioned that this cannot be viewed in isolation of the other consequences of a continued ‘ban’ on the sale of alcohol is causing.
“South Africa is one of the top wine-producing countries of the world, and that sector is predominantly located in our province. We are the wine and agri-processing capital of South Africa, with the sector supporting thousands of livelihoods across a value chain,” the province said.
“Wine industry body Vinpro estimates that the initial nine-week ban on local sales and a five-week ban on exports will result in 18,000 jobs lost, and 80 wineries and 350 grape producers closing their businesses over the next year.
“Stats SA food and beverage data for April and May shows a decline in revenue for his sector of 94% and 87%, respectively, from 2019 revenues.”
The Western Cape government added that the impact on this temporary ban is not just felt in the province’s agricultural and farming communities, but also in its tourism and hospitality sector.
“The reality of this sector is that restaurants rely on alcohol sales to remain profitable. If properly licensed establishments are not allowed to sell alcohol on-site, they will not be able to remain financially viable.
“We, therefore, have a complex situation to address in our province, where the continued suspension on the sale of alcohol will result in a jobs blood bath – mainly in our poorer, rural communities. We cannot ignore this.”
The Western Cape also noted that the stated reason for the ban was that alcohol-related cases were undermining the ability of healthcare systems to provide care to Covid-19 patients.
“This is not so in our province. The Western Cape has passed its peak and currently has adequate platform capacity, to the extent that we will soon be considering whether all our field hospitals need to remain open.,” it said.
“Given this fact, and the dire consequences of this ban on the livelihoods of our people, we can no longer support the continued suspension on the domestic sale of alcohol in the Western Cape.”
The province said that it has now adopted a position against a ‘blanket ban’.
“For as long as the Western Cape can assure access to health facilities for all Covid-19 patients, the temporary ban on the sale of alcohol should be lifted immediately, in conjunction with the implementation of smart interventions to curb the negative impacts of alcohol over the medium to long term.”
“A blunt, blanket ban is not viable, but intelligent plans that tackle the root cause of the problem can make a difference.”
Passed its peak
The province’s latest data indicates that it has passed its ‘peak’, and that metro hospitals are 69% full, down from 71% the week before.
As of 10 August, the Western Cape has 8,371 active cases of Covid-19, with a total of 98,656 confirmed cases and 86,861 recoveries.
The City of Cape Town has reported the most cases (67,922), with Tygerberg reporting the most cases at a district level (12,135).
“Hospitalisations in the province have dropped below the 1,200 mark over the past few days – the lowest hospitalisation numbers recorded in the province since June,” said Premier Alan Winde.
“This is a strong indicator that our efforts to slow the spread of the virus, and our medical interventions, such the use of field hospitals, high flow nasal oxygen and the use of steroids to treat serious cases of Covid-19, are starting to pay off.”