As of December 27, South Africa has counted more than 1 million positive cases of New Coronavirus. South Africa's president announced an immediate ban on the sale of alcoholic products to alleviate the lack of health care resources, as well as shortened bar and restaurant hours.
Image courtesy of: Wine Business Watch
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on December 28 that the sale of alcohol products will be banned in South Africa with immediate effect, as more than one million new cases of positive coronary have been reported in the country. The curfew will also be extended from 11 p.m. to 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address: "No one is allowed to go out during curfew hours except for health workers.
Bars and restaurants will not be completely closed, and the president stressed that the first wave of the outbreak has left the economy very vulnerable, so it needs to remain as stable as possible. However, these bars and restaurants will have shortened evening hours and will not be able to accept customers after eight o'clock in order to respect the new curfew schedule.
The South African president argued: Because we let our guard down, now we pay the price. He cites school graduation celebrations, family gatherings at Christmas, concerts and religious gatherings, all of which are considered super contagious.
He announced that for 14 days, all large internal and external gatherings were banned, with some exceptions, such as a limit of 50 people for funerals. The ban on the sale of alcohol ends at least until Jan. 15. The aim is to reduce the number of hospitalizations resulting from traffic accidents or violence, especially domestic violence, caused by excessive consumption. He insisted that alcohol produces risky behavior and increases emergency department admissions, which currently have more important work to do. He noted that every time we loosen restrictions on alcohol, it leads to an increase in hospital admissions.
Unless we act decisively now, Ramaphosa warned, the number of new infections will greatly exceed the number of people in the first wave of the outbreak. The sale of alcohol products has been regulated to varying degrees since the outbreak began in March. Prior to yesterday's announcement by the South African president, alcohol products could only be purchased during daylight hours between Monday and Thursday.
Regulating the sale of alcoholic products has had a serious impact on the South African wine industry. According to the South African Wine Industry Association (Sawis), local sales in 2020 were 21% lower than the previous year, and overseas markets have shrunk significantly. It is expected that a large amount of premium wine grapes will have to go to juice producers, but that price is 40% lower than for winemaking. Some will also go to industrial manufacturing, such as alcohol sanitizers. But the purchase price is also much lower than for winemaking.
Daneel Rossouw, southern regional agriculture manager of Nedbank, one of the four largest banks in South Africa, told reporters that South African wine has a good reputation in China and the weak exchange rate has made exports of South African wine more attractive. But if the emerging markets cannot be opened soon, 80 wineries and 350 growing companies may exit the industry in the next 18 months.