Wines of South Africa (WOSA) is calling on government to ease the restrictions on alcohol. The not-for-profit industry organisation argues that alcohol should be sold over weekends to help bring the hard-hit industry back to life.

The sale of liquor is currently permitted from Monday to Friday between 9am to 5pm. No alcohol may be sold for off-site consumption over the weekend or during public holidays.

WOSA spokesperson Maryna Calow explains that the current restrictions simply mean that consumers stock up on their alcohol from local liquor stores during the week, which negatively impacts on local wineries. Wine sales form part of the overall experience of visiting a wine farm.

“Many of our wine producers do the majority of their sales from the cellar door. Following the extensive bans on alcohol sales and exports during the various lockdown levels, it is imperative that our industry can get back up and running in order to pick up the pieces again and by them not being allowed to do those crucial cellar door sales over the weekends, is very detrimental.

“At the moment you are allowed to taste wine on the weekend, but if you want to buy, you can, however, the wine will only be delivered to you in the week, sometimes at an additional cost for delivery. The reality is also that consumers sometimes just want to buy a bottle or two of wine, but to get it delivered, you need to order a case.”

Calow further explains that the industry has estimated financial losses of roughly R7,5 billion over the periods of the bans.

“Tens of thousands of jobs have been lost and we’re also likely to see many of our wineries closing down in the coming months. Add to this losses in the wine tourism and hospitality sectors as well, then the picture really does become very bleak,” Calow adds.

“Opening sales up over the weekend is not likely to affect anything from a COVID-19 perspective, but it can make a massive difference to an industry which is haemorrhaging due to the various bans on sales and exports.”

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