Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA) has appealed to government not to impose suspension on liquor sales amid growing concerns of the new Covid-19 variant.
BAIA Spokesperson Jacob Sesinyi stated that they are confident that government and local scientists have found a way of dealing with the spread of the virus beyond travel bans and lockdowns.
“Remember lockdown was never a solution, so there has been enough lockdowns for the authorities to have learnt. Bringing the economy down can never be a solution anywhere, in fact it makes things worse,” said Sesinyi.
He added that it has been reported globally that vaccine makes a great difference, stating that efforts should be channeled towards encouraging people to take up the vaccine.
“What is also important is that we have now established how the virus spreads, so we need to stick to the protocols to minimise the spread and that has nothing to do with alcohol,” said Sesinyi.
He further said government should have come up with regulations before opening up the economy, adding that whoever is issuing licenses for festivals should have also provided guidance in terms of how many people should be allowed in a venue to minimise the spread.
Sesinyi highlighted that there is need for government to find a sustainable way of dealing with the virus without hurting the economy.
“Many people have lost their jobs since the outbreak of Covid-19, businesses have collapsed, so government should understand that people want to put food on their tables. We have the small businesses which depend heavily on alcohol sales, so shutting down the liquor industry will further damage the economy and we know that whenever the industry shuts down, there is increase in unemployment,” added Sesinyi.
He also said they continue to engage government around ways of improving the industry, adding that the sector has the potential to create more jobs.
“We lost some liquor operators during the past 18 months because it was not easy for them having to pay rent when their businesses were not operating, so government needs to be careful around the issue of Covid-19 and alcohol sales. Government knows our stance regarding alcohol sales, they too know the kind of revenue this industry gives our economy, so we are hopeful that government will do what is right without hurting the liquor sector,” said Sesinyi.
The liquor sector has suffered in the past 18 months due to sudden closures owing to the growing number of Covid-19 cases.