Stakeholders in South Africa’s wine industry have welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that restrictions on liquor trading would be eased, saying that it will assist in the recovery of the wine industry.
In a televised address on Wednesday evening, 11 November, on the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramaphosa announced a further easing of the current Level 1 lockdown restrictions.
“As we transition to a new phase in our response, the only way forward is a rapid and sustained economic recovery. We are therefore working to enable all parts of the economy to return to full operation as quickly and as safely as possible.”
He added that government was amending the Level 1 regulations to restore normal trading hours for the sale of liquor in retail outlets, with effect from Thursday, 12 November.
These amendments have been officially published in the Government Gazette by the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, which effectively meant that liquor trading hours were returning to pre-lockdown levels, including weekends.
According to Rico Basson, managing director of Vinpro, the normalisation of liquor trading hours would facilitate the wine sector’s recovery.
“The wine industry welcomes the fact that both on-consumption and off-consumption sales are now permitted. Wine sales at cellars make up a large portion of their revenue, and the resumption of normal trade, especially now the tourism season is approaching, is critical.”
Schalk Burger of Welbedacht wine estate near Wellington told Farmer’s Weekly that he was very relieved about the announcement.
“The ban on wine sales over weekends has hit the industry hard, as weekend sales can easily account for 80% to 90% of your weekly sales.” He said he believed that although the announcement was a step in the right direction, a long road to recovery still awaited South Africa’s wine industry.
The liquor industry also welcomed Ramaphosa’s stated goal of focusing on restoring, recovering, and rebuilding the economy.
Kurt Moore, CEO of the South African Liquor Brand Owners’ Association, said the industry was working hard across the value chain to ensure that the sector could start with the rebuilding process, to enable it to make a valuable contribution to the revival of the country’s economy.
Patricia Pillay, CEO of the Beer Association of South Africa, said: “We are committed to supporting the president’s rapid economic growth plan. We are also going to continue working with social partners to curb the harmful use of [liquor]. We encourage all consumers to drink in moderation and to also explore no- and low-alcohol products that have been introduced onto the market.”