South Africa Craft Brewers Fear for Survival in New Alcohol Ban

South Africa’s beer industry body warned that independent craft breweries are “on the brink of closure” after the government ordered a third ban on alcohol sales to help contain a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

The prohibition, designed in part to ease the burden on hospitals from vehicle accidents and drinking-related violence, was implemented nationwide on Dec. 29, part of a wider set of lockdown measures that include a 9 p.m. curfew. Coronavirus case numbers have been accelerating following the emergence of a new strain late last year, while parties and other festive gatherings are known to exacerbate the spread.

The restrictions are set to be reviewed by Jan. 15, and allowing alcohol sales to resume “is imperative to ensure the survival of small business owners of craft breweries,” the Beer Association of South Africa said in a statement on Wednesday. The call comes after the equivalent body for the liquor-trader industry called on more government support for bars in the poorest communities.

The previous two alcohol bans, which lasted more than three months combined, cost South Africa’s greater beer industry an estimated 7,400 jobs and 14.2 billion rand ($953 million) in revenue, according to Basa. The Craft Brewers Association South Africa said its industry includes as many as 200 manufacturers and 4,000 employees.

“The third ban is devastating to craft brewers, who are small businesses owners who work within small margins,” said Wendy Pienaar, chief executive officer of the Craft Brewers Association of South Africa. Members have depleted their savings and are in desperate need of financial relief, she said.

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