Soweto residents receive hand sanitiser, March 23 2020. Picture: LUCA SOLA / AFP
Soweto residents receive hand sanitiser, March 23 2020. Picture: LUCA SOLA / AFP

Local alcohol producers have pledged to donate 40,000l of pure alcohol for production of sanitisers, which have been on short supply since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Alcohol industry representatives, including the South African Liquor Brand Owners Association, the Beer Association of SA and wine producers association Vinpro, said in a joint statement on Monday that more members are in consultation to approve the provision of pure alcohol free of charge.

Highly purified alcohol can be used as a disinfectant. It is effective against viruses, bacteria, moulds and yeasts.

While the alcohol industry — like many other businesses in the country — has been hit hard by the pandemic, the sector has backed reduced trading hours as part of measures to stop the spread of Covid-19. Sales are likely to drop due to trading restrictions.

“We support the decision taken by [the] government under the National Disaster Act to restrict hours for the sale of alcohol to between 9am and 6pm from Monday to Saturday and to between 9am and 1pm on Sundays and public holidays as well as the limitation of number of people to less than 50 per outlet,” industry representatives stated in the joint statement.

They said this is one of the measures that should limit social contact and potentially contribute to reducing the rapid spread of the virus.

“In that regard, we will as much as possible support our customers to comply with the newly promulgated regulations for sale of alcohol. Many of our brands sponsor sports, entertainment and other social events in SA. We have cancelled events where there could have been more than a 100 people, in line with the presidential directive for social distancing.

“Our experiential and product tasting facilities that contribute to encouraging local tourism have been closed.”

Industry representatives also said the sector employs thousands of people, one of the immediate interventions against the outbreak of Covid-19 has been to protect the health and welfare of employees and their families. Wherever possible and practical, office-based employees have been encouraged to work from home or remotely to minimise exposure to potential infection.

In production, logistics and other areas where remote work is not possible, “we have put in place protocols for infection control, detection and management of all suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19. We have, in addition, instituted ‘temperature testing’ at our sites.”

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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