Gray, also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee advising Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on South Africa's Covid-19 response, said: "My recommendation to government is to be nimble... We have achieved the impact by having a curfew and prohibition on alcohol. We have achieved what we needed. Now we need to address other issues. We have achieved the lives, now we need to look at livelihoods."
The prohibition of alcohol sales is having a devastating effect, with more than 100 000 of the almost one million jobs supported by the alcohol industry value chain having been lost in the first phase of the ban at lockdown level 5 and 4.
"Nineteen days since that economically devastating decision to ban alcohol with immediate effect, the SAMRC is advising government differently. If the government is to be consistent in its approach to the ban, it needs to urgently open talks for the orderly reopening of alcohol trade to prevent further losses of jobs and revenue for both the state and business," said Sibani Mngadi, a spokesperson for the alcohol industry.
More than R19 billion in revenue and R3.4 billion in excise tax to government was lost during the first phase of the ban on alcohol sales. Furthermore, the industry has requested the Ministry of Finance to defer the payment of a further R5 billion currently due to the South African Revenue Services until the ban on alcohol sales has been lifted.