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Vinpro pushes ahead with court case as SA alcohol ban lifted

Published:  02 February, 2021

Vinpro has welcomed last night’s announcement that the third alcohol ban on local liquor sales has been lifted, but said it would push ahead with the court application it launched in the Cape High Court last month to help save the beleaguered industry. 

Under the eased restrictions, retail outlets can sell alcohol between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday, with licensed outlets allowed to serve drinks on-site from 10am to 10pm, when they must close.

The industry body said it was “pleased” that wine businesses could start trading again, but that it would continue “prioritising various actions to improve the industry's long-term sustainability”.

“Opening up wine sales for home consumption from Monday to Thursday, as well as wine cellars for consumption in restaurants and tasting rooms throughout the week and on weekends will help restore some of the local wine sales revenue to more sustainable levels,” said Vinpro MD Rico Basson.

As a priority, Vinpro said it would build on “various actions” the organisation has focused on over the past 10 months. 

“We must first ensure that our industry is not again switched on and off nationwide like a light switch by government, regardless of variation in Covid-19 status in the respective provinces,” it said. 

Therefore, Vinpro added, it would go ahead with the court application, "seeking relief which would afford the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province”.

Ultimately similar relief would be sought in respect of the other provinces, it said.

“Covid-19 remains a serious reality that endangers the lives and livelihoods of South Africans. We as an industry are committed to proactively implementing preventative measures from farm level to retail to protect employees, consumers and broader wine industry communities. Furthermore, we will continue to participate in discussions around a risk-adjusted approach to open up the economy even further, and ensure that it remains open,” said Basson.

“A long and difficult road to recovery lies ahead for wine-related businesses and it is even too late for some businesses,” he added.

SA wine businesses have not been able to earn any income from local wine sales for a total of 20 weeks since March 2020, which has led to an overall loss of more than R8bn in direct sales revenue and still threatens the survival of cellars, wine grape producers and the livelihoods of 27,000 employees in the wine industry value-chain.

The Vinpro hearing in the Cape High Court is set for 5 February.