SA’s beer industry body has warned that independent craft breweries are “on the brink of closure” after the government ordered a third ban on alcohol sales to help contain a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

The prohibition, designed in part to ease the burden on hospitals from vehicle accidents and drinking-related violence, was implemented nationwide on December 29, part of a wider set of lockdown measures that include a 9pm curfew. Coronavirus case numbers have been accelerating after the emergence of a new strain late in 2020, while parties and other festive gatherings are known to worsen the spread.

The restrictions are set to be reviewed by January 15, and allowing alcohol sales to resume “is imperative to ensure the survival of small business owners of craft breweries”, the Beer Association of SA  said in a statement on Wednesday. The call comes after the equivalent body for the liquor-trader industry called on more government support for bars in the poorest communities.

The previous two alcohol bans, which lasted more than three months combined, cost SA’s beer industry an estimated 7,400 jobs and R14.2bn in revenue, according to the association. It said its industry includes as many as 200 manufacturers and 4,000 employees.

“The third ban is devastating to craft brewers, who are small businesses owners who work within small margins,” said CEO Wendy Pienaar. Members have depleted their savings and are in desperate need of financial relief, she said.


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