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Distiller on alcohol ban’s impact

Businesses in the alcohol industry are feeling the pinch after yet another alcohol ban in the country.

On Monday 28 December 2020 President Cyril Ramaphosa implemented another immediate ban on alcohol. He addressed the nation once again on Monday 11 January and extended the ban on alcohol under the adjusted Level 3 regulations.

According to Shane Smith, co-owner of West Coast Distillers in Langebaan, the alcohol ban has had a devastating impact. “It is the third time we have been shut down, and every time we start building momentum we end up being shut down again.”

He says the festive season started off well for various business in the industry, “but we were shut down in the middle of the peak season that we rely on so desperately.”

Nick Pentz of Groote Post Vineyard situated in Darling shares the same sentiments and says that the ban has brought more devastation especially at the prime holiday season when they traditionally have their best sales. He adds that although online sales with delivery after the ban are allowed, customers are mostly on holiday and are not in the frame of mind of placing online orders. “Exports are allowed, but January is not a shipping month as most orders were shipped late November early December,” he says.

When asked about the government’s approach and what could have been done differently, Smith adds that it is unfair to punish an industry (large and small businesses) for the actions of a few. “I do understand that the hospitals and front-line workers are under huge strain, and I don’t want to take anything away from the seriousness of the situation we are facing.”

He adds that the number of infections is rising and the number of deaths is a real concern and seems to be getting ‘closer to home’ for everyone.

“That said, the complete closure of the entire industry is destroying many livelihoods and more and more people are losing jobs every day. Businesses are shutting down at a very fast rate.”

Pentz says tourism is the industry that is best able to take the country out of the downward spiral of unemployment and that it will take many years to get out of devastating position the industry is now in.

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