SAAPA calls for another alcohol ban amid concerns over ‘third wave’

According to reports, a lobby group called the South African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) has called on the government to restrict alcohol sales again as the country faces a possible third wave of Covid-19.

While the South African government has yet to officially declare that the country (nationally) is experiencing a third wave, the lobby group is arguing that prevention is better than cure in this case.

SAAPA has reportedly asked for quite a few restrictions on alcohol sales, advertising and events. The restrictions it put forward include:

  1. Prohibit major alcohol-fuelled party events, including street parties;
  2. Reduce the gathering numbers to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors;
  3. Extend the curfew from midnight to 22h00, seven days a week;
  4. Announce that all on-consumption liquor outlets should be closed from 18h00 on public holidays and one day prior to public holidays to discourage the excessive use of alcohol in overcrowded venues and to limit the potential for ‘super-spreader’ events;
  5. Disallow alcohol consumption in public places, particularly in parks, on beaches, at swimming pools etc;
  6. Suspend for a minimum of three months, or revoke, the licences of outlets that break alcohol and/or Covid-19 regulations;
  7. Reduce off-consumption operating hours.
  8. Temporarily impose zero breath and blood concentration levels for drivers during the State of Disaster – such a measure is already contained in the Road Traffic Amendment Bill which is currently before Parliament and has wide-spread support, but won’t be enacted before the end of 2021;
  9. Ban all special offers for reduced price alcoholic beverages at least until the end of the State of Disaster;
  10. Ban all alcohol advertising except at the point of sale to reduce the pressure on people to drink.

The group said: “Saapa believes it is best to act sooner rather than later and that government should not wait until the health system becomes overburdened before restrictions are introduced. Alcohol consumption should not aggravate the predicted impact of the third wave,”.

SAAPA has explained that it understands and acknowledges the impact and concerns the alcohol industry has around alcohol bans, however, it says “if the industry wants to avoid future bans, it should stop opposing the adoption by government of new legislation, eg. the Liquor Amendment Bill.”

The group argues that the Liquor Amendment Bill would be a long term solution.

With the previous restrictions on alcohol sales, the industry reportedly lost R36.3 billion within the first 3 months.