The decision by the South African government to suspend the sales of alcohol is not the “answer to lessening coronavirus cases” in the country, the National Liquor Traders Council (NLTC) has said.Instead, the move was killing small businesses that sell alcohol in the country’s poor black townships, the NLTC said on Monday.
Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that his government had suspended with immediate effect all alcohol sales in the country.
This was done in an effort to reduce pressure on the healthcare system from the rising trauma accidents and alcohol-related violent crimes like stabbings, which is depriving coronavirus patients quick access to services at the country’s hospitals.
According to the NLTC, a body made up of over 50,000 business owners, a further ban on the sale of alcohol was very destructive to their businesses, which had earlier suffered irreparable damage following the first ban under the hard lockdown that ended on 31 May.
The council said since the lockdown on 27 March some 10,000 taverns had closed permanently and another 12,500 taverns were barely surviving.
This represented 25 percent of taverns that were in distress and could not survive another week of this current non-trading as announced on Sunday, it said.
“The impact of another hard lockdown will only grow these numbers further and deal a deadly blow to the only township economy still in the hands of black South Africans,” the body said.
The council noted that there was “no state financial support being discussed or put forward for these small business owners that have operated within the boundaries of the law and their licenses — even though they have adhered to the requirements of the lockdown at a great personal loss to themselves and their livelihoods.”