Court case to settle alcohol sales in South Africa

Vinpro, a non-profit company representing 3,500 South African wine producers, will go to court on Monday (August 23) to fight the government’s ongoing alcohol ban and completely reopen the industry.

South Africa has faced comprehensive alcohol sales bans on four occasions since late March 2020 as part of the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Under the country’s current adjusted Level 3 lockdown, which went into effect on July 26, the sale of alcohol in retail outlets for off-site consumption is permitted between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Alcohol sales for on-site consumption are permitted under permit conditions until 8:00 p.m.

Vinpro is now challenging the government’s approach to alcohol ban restrictions under the Disaster Management Act.

The case is due to be heard by the Western Cape High Court from August 23-26, 2021.

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have maintained that the provinces, not the national government, should decide impose or not restrictions on alcohol and should do so based on provincial circumstances, including the need to preserve the capacity of trauma units in hospitals in the province, ”said Vinpro General Manager Rico Basson.

“We know that provinces are affected differently by the pandemic; therefore, we believe that a differentiated approach in managing the crisis is necessary to limit the economic impact of a foreclosure. “

Vinpro launched its legal enforcement during the second wave of Covid-19 cases in January 2021 and has now also approached the court to include evidence of how the blanket alcohol ban failed its target during the third wave.

“While we challenged the government’s decision through an emergency ban request and a hearing on July 21, 2021, the case was then made academic as the ban was partially lifted four times. days later.

“In an interim request, we are now asking that this evidence be considered as well,” Basson said.

Future impact

Vinpro said the government vehemently opposed his request to introduce such additional evidence, arguing it was moot because the ban was partially lifted.

“However, we have seen how the government has dealt with previous alcohol bans. A blanket ban is being imposed on several occasions, and with a fourth wave likely to hit the country in December, this issue is certainly not moot, ”Basson said.

“Wine is part of agriculture, just like tourism. Our industry supports 80,183 people working at the farm level and 228,053 people working down the wine value chain. “

Basson said the wine industry has built a strong brand reputation as a unique asset.

“The South African wine industry is more than a drink; it is a livelihood. And it is our responsibility to ensure that this industry is preserved for future generations. “

A fourth wave of Covid-19 infections is expected to hit South Africa in early December.

Salim Abdool Karim, former chairman of the government’s ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19, said Bloomberg that current estimates show the fourth wave starting on December 2 and will last around 75 days.

The government assumes that the wave will follow a pattern similar to the current one. Speaking at a Government Technical Advisory Center conference, he said there will likely be a new variant by then. Data suggests the current wave will end around August 26.

Read: How much wine, beer and other spirits have risen in South Africa in the past year

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