The Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) has cried out to the government to reconsider opening the alcohol industry and allow for the sale and distribution of the alcoholic beverages.
The government has been moving back and forth about its decision to allow for the sale of alcohol during this Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic. During the first lockdown the sale of alcohol and cigarettes were declared to be prohibited, after a complaint by the BAIA the government took a decision to let the sale of alcohol recommence but with regulated times for different outlets. Also, people were to buy and drink only at home.
However, after the festive season the government once again reinforced the decision that alcohol sale should be suspended until further notice. According to the reasons advanced by the government, due to the influence of alcohol people were not adhering to COVID-19 regulations- they were partying without masks, not observing social distancing, set gathering numbers, and curfew times. This according to the government was risk to the spread of the virus.
On the contrary, BAIA believes that the decision by the government is unfair to them as there is “no evidence that the suspension of the sale and distribution of alcohol has thus far contributed to the reduction in infections” the industry therefore is of the view that “the alcohol industry is being disproportionately targeted in terms of actions taken by the government to reduce transmission.”
According to BAIA, this approach by the government has a potential to cripple the alcohol industry on a long-term basis and damage its sustainability, “The prohibition on the sale of alcohol has severely affected many thousands of livelihoods, and its extension will result in long-term damage to the sustainability of the industry and its extensive value chain. “
The press release by BAIA follows a decision by the Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) decision to completely suspend operations due to the government’s ban on alcohol sale and distribution.
BAIA urged the government to consult before taking decisions of this magnitude, and remains hopeful that the government will take heed of their plea.