Alcohol industry rolls out a number of initiatives to promote safety as pandemic heightens
As South Africa fights the second wave of Covid-19, alcoholic drinks producer Distell is investing R1.6-million towards supporting more than 1 000 liquor traders through training to ensure compliance with liquor licence conditions, aimed at reducing the harm caused by alcohol abuse.
The Responsible Trader initiative, which will be rolled out in three phases over five provinces between December 2020 and February 2021, launched in Nelson Mandela Bay – one of the country’s Covid-19 hotspots – on December 21.
Distell’s Group CEO, Richard Rushton said: “The goal is to improve compliance with Covid-19 and liquor licence conditions among 1 080 out of approximately 3 000 taverns estimated to be non-compliant in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and North West.
“We are a South African company, and our future is invested here. We share our Government’s concerns on the rising Covid-19 infections. This pandemic is perhaps the greatest challenge our country has faced since democracy, and we have resolved to do everything we can to support efforts to help curb it.”
The responsible trader groups aim to have more than 90% of the trade Distell serves comply with all applicable regulations, which will be determined through audits carried out in the marketplace, Rushton said. “Distell is committed to being a force for good and, through programmes such as Responsible Trader, is showcasing our intent on tackling alcohol abuse and social issues.”
Distell has partnered with various Liquor Trader Formations, provincial South African Police Service, Community Policing Forums (CPF), and provincial Liquor Boards for the roll-out of the programme.
Liquor Trader Formations convenor, Lucky Ntimane said traders who undergo the training will complete pre- and post-assessments to identify taverns that are non-compliant and to support them in remaining compliant going forward. “They will also sign a Responsible Trader Pledge Form committing to being a responsible trader,” said Ntimane.
Ntimane said liquor traders who attend the focus groups will be issued with hand sanitisers and washable face masks for use at their liquor outlets, to further promote compliance among patrons. “The focus groups will be broken down into 20 traders at a time with an independent facilitator conducting the training support. We understand the importance of ensuring traders are compliant both with Covid-19 best practice as well as liquor licence regulations over the festive period and beyond,” said Ntimane.
Rushton said it was critical that Distell stood together with the industry to ensure that consumers and customers adhered to safety, responsible trading, and the sensible consumption of alcohol.
“We know that traders are experiencing a difficult time due to the trading restrictions placed on them through the pandemic, and through various industry-leading initiatives, we hope to support and guide these mostly small business owners through a tough period,” said Rushton.
Since the pandemic broke out, Distell has invested millions of rands towards alcohol harm reduction initiatives. These initiatives include promoting responsible trading to 24 500 outlets through the Distell customer rewards programmes, partnering with Department of Transport on the Arrive Alive campaign with a strong focus on preventing drinking and driving incidents and partnering with the Department of Social Development on prevention of Gender Base Violence with various programmes aligned to the National Strategic Plan pillars.