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Wine industry head to court over booze ban after R8 billion in losses

wine in the shop

Wine produce representatives, Vinpro has revealed that it will be approaching the Western Cape High Court to force the government’s hand to lift the blanket ban of alcohol.

The organization says that the government has not been transparent in its reasons for the continued ban on alcohol.

This comes as one of South Africa’s leading vaccinologists, Professor Shabir Madhi confirmed that the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has been passed.

“Government has not been transparent with us on justifying the continued ban, nor did they give any explanation or clarity on the timeline for a review of this ban. This makes planning and contingency plans impossible,” the organisation said in a statement.

It says that industry proposals were not taken into account when the third ban was introduced despite its continued engagements with the government to curb the spread of the virus.

The industry, which also strongly relies on tourism and hospitality, now finds itself in a dire position after a ban of 19 weeks since March 2020.

“This resulted in a loss of more than R8 billion in direct sales and the possible closure of cellars and producers, threatening 27 000 jobs and putting the most vulnerable in our communities in a poverty trap which will have far-reaching socio-economic outcomes that will place an even greater strain on our healthcare system,” reads the statement.

The government has been under pressure since South Africa returned to alert level three of the national lockdown amid the second surge in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations during the festive season.

There have been relentless questions from business owners and liquor outlet representatives as to why the sale of alcohol is still banned when the festive season is over.

Vinpro said it was relieved that the numbers of new infections, active cases, and hospital admissions were now dropping fast across the country, but particularly in the Western Cape.

“In these circumstances, the liquor ban is simply no longer justified in the Western Cape. Accordingly, to the extent that the situation does not change for the worse, and if the liquor ban is still in force in the Western Cape by 5 February, the Western Cape High Court will be asked to invalidate Minister Dlamini-Zuma’s ban in the Western Cape with immediate effect.”

The matter is set down for hearing on 5 February 2021.

-The Citizen

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