The South African Brewery remains steadfast in its commitment to helping reignite the country's economy and to protecting the livelihoods of the 250 000 people who depend on its value chain, while simultaneously ensuring that the strictest safety protocols are enforced to safeguard our nation's health and wellbeing.
The beer economy is a strong engine of economic activity and can play a crucial role in supporting the economy and its recovery. As a business we want to ensure the safety of South Africans while minimizing the risk associated with consumption of illegal concoctions and the commercial growth of an illicit alcohol network.
"We want to be part of the solution, and regard the proposals put forward by the business and the industry as having taken serious consideration to resuscitating our economy as well as ensuring that our customers and retailers remain safe," says Zoleka Lisa, VP Corporate Affairs, SAB.
During our numerous engagements with government, as a business and through the industry, we have put forward several proposals outlining solutions we have considered to ensure that the regulated sale of alcohol is included in level three.
"In the government's 'Risk Adjusted Strategy', the sale of alcohol was to be considered in level three with restricted trading hours of three hours per day and for three days a week, which we believe will cause people to gather in masses which will contravene the government's efforts to enforce social distancing to flatten the curve", Lisa warned. "We want to appeal to government that as they deliberate on the trade of regulated alcohol, they consider allowing for sufficient sales channels, reasonable trading hours and number of days" she added.
To prevent similar outcomes witnessed in countries like India, the alcohol industry has proposed the opening of more legal channels on sufficient days and allowing adequate time to make purchases while enabling consumers to maintain social distancing protocols, such as:
- Allowing licensed off-consumption outlets to sell alcohol subject to strict social distancing requirements and within restricted hours of trade (Mon-Friday 9am-5pm, Sat 9am-4pm and closed on Sunday and public holidays).
- Allowing licensed on-consumption outlets to sell subject to the strict social distancing requirements and within restricted hours of trade. This includes granting a special dispensation for taverns to operate strictly as off-consumption outlets. Through the development of a "click and collect" model, 34500 licensed taverns will be able to adhere to social distancing protocols, as people will not be queuing to purchase.
During this time we reengineered our business and accepted a challenge to work with government and donated hand sanitisers, face shields and face masks in support of our essential health workers.
It is important that a measured and balanced approach be considered as we prepare to move to level 3 to ensure that the safety of South Africans comes first and whilst simultaneously boosting the economy.