Following announcement on the opening of booze gates that was welcomed with fireworks on Friday, the Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) has called on consumers to strictly adhere to all the COVID-19 health protocols.
The second lengthy alcohol ban came into effect early January following spike in COVID-19 cases in the the country.
“The sustenance of the industry is heavily dependent on our behaviour and approach towards alcohol consumption and adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
Alcohol will be sold strictly for home consumption as per the latest Extraordinary Government Gazette Notice No. 75 of 2021 and as such we plead with the consumers to adhere to this. BAIA calls on all stakeholders to work together to ensure that the industry is protected hence protecting the livelihoods of many families and thanks the government for playing its part,” BAIA chairperson, Masegonyana Madisa said.
He added they were happy that the government has taken heed of their pleas for the opening of the industry.
“BAIA would like to applaud the government for finally lifting the ban on the sale of alcohol in Botswana effective from March 1st, 2021 as the blanket prohibition on the sale of alcohol severely affects many thousands of livelihoods.
BAIA wholeheartedly agrees that the health and safety of the population must remain government’s overriding priority, but believes that this objective can be pursued through more proportionate measures that allow the industry to continue to trade.
As a result, allowing restricted trade of alcohol, as BAIA has always maintained, balances curbing the spread of the virus whilst preserving the livelihoods of people and sustainability of the industry and its extension value chain
Madisa, who doubles up as Kgalagadi Breweries Limited spokesperson, said every time an alcohol ban is imposed, the industry loses millions in revenue. He added that some of their members were forced to halt operations, put employees on unpaid leave and suspend payments to supplies until the ban was lifted.
“Bearing in mind that the industry has not yet recovered from the impact from last year, if you include the last two months of zero revenue, this will have long-term damage to the sustainability of the industry, its 50, 000 direct and indirect employees and 200, 000 livelihoods that depend on it and its extensive value chain,” he said.
On what they make of what seems to be unfair to some businesses like restaurants and bars, BAIA believes that what is important at this stage is that the industry will be allowed to trade effective today. He said the industry would like to believe that this would be a phased approach and that it will approach government as time goes on to review the existing restrictions of other players such as restaurants and bars amongst others.
BAIA will be launching a new publicity and education campaign soon building up from the Dinwele Dladleng campaign all of which talks to responsible drinking at home and to follow all the necessary protocol to reduce the spread of the virus.