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Alcohol Industry Proposes 'Takeaway'

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
Alcohol PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
With doubts that booze gates would open on February 1, 2021, alcohol traders want to plead with the government to open up in a bid to save the industry.

Liquor traders are pleading with the government to allow for the sale of alcohol for home consumption and want strict action taken against those who do not play by the book.

Though quick to admit that some liquor traders and imbibers have failed to comply with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols, Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) chairperson Mothusi Molokomme believes their proposal could strike a balance between keeping the virus at bay while at the same time, saving jobs.

"When the decision to close was taken we were not surprised. We were also concerned that some traders and customers were not following set protocols despite our efforts pleading with them to comply. When the decision to close was made we had to accept the decision as we support measures put in place to fight the virus. We have been engaging amongst ourselves and have come up with a request to authorities to open. We want stringent action to be taken against those who do not comply, we want alcohol to be sold for home consumption even though it could be bad for restaurants, and we also want to close on weekends as that is when most people want to gather," he said.

Molokomme said despite the spike in COVID-19 deaths and new cases, families of those working in the alcohol industry are suffering while the government does not have a plan in place to relieve them hence their plea.

He expressed concern

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over those selling alcohol in the black market. He said the origins of the alcohol in most cases cannot be verified stating that this could lead to loss of lives and other problems as it has happened in the past.

Molokomme pleaded with Batswana to behave accordingly in case they are given the green light.

"We would like to plead with Batswana to be sensitive when dealing with this matter. We see increased cases being recorded, people are dying and if we are to trade and consume alcohol, we ought to be responsible and follow the set protocols. We will amplify the #dinweledladleng campaign to try and encourage people to do the right thing," he said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry Peggy Serame could not say if the suspension of alcohol would be lifted on February 1, as per the government gazette or if there would be an extension.

"Unfortunately I cannot say whether or not alcohol will be sold on February 1. Several factors are taken into consideration before a decision is made. The key factor is the disease burden, also how the health system is coping," she said.

The situation on the ground is, however, looking grim as the country currently records an average of 300 cases daily. Deaths have also risen, surpassing 100 as per the last update last Thursday. Alcohol and event venues where alcohol is consumed have been fingered as super-spreaders of the virus.



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