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Calls for bars to become drink-collection points when alcohol ban lifts

South Africa’s alcoholic-beverage makers are pushing the government to allow smaller bars 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 travelling long distances and help reduce illicit sales, Richard Rushton, CEO of wine and spirits maker Distell, said in an interview with Bloomberg yesterday.

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

President Cyril Ramaphosa said Sunday that alcohol sales would be allowed when lockdown is eased from June 1. Drinks will still only be allowed to be consumed at home and the final regulations will be decided following consultation with the industry, he said.

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

The industry has committed to help with the distribution of masks, sanitizer and health-information messages as it opens up, the CEO added.

Related reading:

Liquor producers puzzle on how to ease alcohol ban

How liquor could be used to improve health and economic outcomes post-coronavirus

Ban on cigarette, liquor sales costing R1.5bn in lost tax revenue – Kieswetter

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