Liquor companies push for South African bars to sell alcohol for home consumption

Liquor companies push for South African bars to sell alcohol for home consumption

South African alcoholic-beverage makers are pushing the government to allow township pubs to convert into drink-collection points when a nationwide ban on sales is lifted next week.

Allowing taverns in poorer communities to sell alcohol for home drinking will prevent local residents traveling long distances and help reduce illicit sales, Richard Rushton, chief executive officer of wine and spirits maker Distell Group Holdings Ltd., said in an interview on Monday.

There are about 54,000 smaller licensed establishmentsserving local communities that would be unable to generate income and are at risk if not included in the new rules, he said.

The state should also extend opening hours beyond initial proposals for a Monday-to-Thursday window to reduce crowding, Rushton said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that alcohol sales would be allowed when a lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic is eased from June 1. Drinks will still only be allowed to be consumed at home and the final regulations are expected to be announced Wednesday afternoon.

South Africa banned the sale of beer, wine and spirits in late March, in part to ease the burden on hospitals and reduce the temptation for large gatherings. The industry is in “dire straits” after being inactive for two months, Rushton said, although wine exports have been allowed in May.

The glass industry, which relies heavily on customers in the alcohol industry, has also suffered.

“We really are hoping that in the hours ahead the inclusion of the smaller licensed outlets are incorporated in the final regulations,” Rushton said.

The industry has committed to help with the distribution of masks, sanitizers and health-information messages as it opens up, the CEO added. Distell’s drinks include a variety of wines, as well as Klipdrift brandy and Hunter’s Dry cider.