Image via Adobe Stock
Image via Adobe Stock
Those of us who are ready for a beer – arguably, more ready than we ever have been before – now only have to wait until Monday to get our hands on the good stuff. However, putting alcohol back on supermarket shelves won’t come without raising a few issues when Level 3 of lockdown is implemented.
That’s something which Distell CEO Richard Rushton knows all too well. He’s issued a statement on behalf of one of the biggest brewing companies in South Africa, expressing both relief and caution about the steps ahead.
Some relief that alcohol sales are allowed in SA level 3 regulations. There are still many moving parts on how we operate & under what conditions we responsibly promote/market. The industry is not out of the woods. Must also be mindful of our role in the fight against COVID-19.— Richard Rushton (@richardmrushton) May 25, 2020
Although the news will be generally positive for this industry, there are still some barriers that are a major cause for concern. Here are the stumbling blocks which need to be cleared:
Rushton uses India as the prime example: They put booze back on sale after a six-week prohibition period, but then saw fights and arguments break out at various outlets. He states that decisions were taken to open up with restricted trading, which led to severe over-crowding – it’s something Distell is desperate to avoid.
The illicit booze market
Alcohol has been off the shelves for so long, the illegal market has boomed. That’s not likely to go away overnight, especially with the government allegedly planning to open liquor stores from Monday – Thursday. Rushton feels that an inability to access alcohol on weekends will keep illicit sales high during lockdown.
The economic exclusion of bars and taverns
Allowing the home consumption of booze will be a cause of celebration for many, but it means little to those who run our pubs and bars. They still remain excluded from the market at Level 3, and perhaps will do for months to come. Rushton suggests that tavern owners should be allowed to run a ‘click and collect’ service.
“Industry associations presented several proposals and solutions to ensure safe off-consumption trading of taverns. Part of their support plan would include supplying them with free PPE packages, including sanitisers, masks, gloves, as well as education and training material to meet strict COVID-19 safety protocols.”
“One of the solutions also includes a ‘click and collect’ model which has been developed with taverns to ensure social distancing measures are followed, in the same way that traditional restaurants will be allowed to operate. We also see the 34 500 tavern owners of SA as an important part of economic inclusion.”Distell CEO Richard Rushton