Agri SA welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s recent announcement that the national Covid-19 lockdown will move from Level 2 to Level 1 this week. The reopening of all economic sectors will contribute to much-needed economic growth.
The ban on the sale of wine in stores and on wine farms, especially over weekends, however makes no sense to Agri SA.
This draconic measure has an extremely negative impact on the financial sustainability of wine farms which attract a large number of visitors and tourists, particularly over weekends.
“The wine sector is a major contributor to domestic and international tourism in South Africa. We appreciate that tourism is regarded as a sector that can promote economic recovery. Relaxation of the rules for consumption on the premises, as well as indoor and outdoor events, should unlock opportunities for our sector to recover,” said Rico Basson, managing director of VinPro.
VinPro is the representative organisation for more than 2 500 South African wine grape producers, cellars and wine-related businesses since 2012.
The continued restrictions on sales for home consumption over weekends according to the direct Covid-19 protocol are disappointing for the 530 wine cellars which rely on direct sales from cellar doors for home consumption.
This comes during a time when the wine industry, with a significant number of small and medium enterprises, is in dire need of economic recovery, job retention and growth.
Agri SA echoes the misgivings expressed by VinPro in this regard, namely that wine farms rely on direct sales from cellars for home consumption and that the industry is being denied an opportunity to recover economically.
“South Africa must now use every opportunity for economic recovery and to get those industries brought to their knees by the stringent Covid-19 restrictions back on track,” said Christo van der Rheede, deputy executive director of Agri SA.
Agri SA called on the government to lift the ban on wines sales over weekends. The tourism industry needs all the support it can get to get back on track. This includes wine farms and related wine-tasting and wine sales which are particularly popular over weekends. Since it forms an integral part of the local tourism industry, wine sales for home consumption should no longer be prohibited over weekends. There is no rational argument for extending the ban.