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Wine industry challenges the latest lockdown

News coming from the Western Cape is that the wine industry is challenging the recent lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa this past weekend. 

Vinpro and industry partners sought an urgent interim relief from the courts, and if granted would allow for the Premier of Western Cape Alan Winde to assume powers to adopt deviations to the national ban. 

According to VINPRO, this will “enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province. Similar relief will be sought in respect of other provinces.” 

The Presidency was still to react to the urgent interdict application to lift the ban on the sale of wine in the Western Cape. 

Wine was an exponential economic drive of the Western Cape contributing close to 6,5% of the province’s exports. 

MEC for Agriculture Western Cape, Ivan Meyer, said he had written to the National Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to request her assistance in addressing specific challenges related to the specific challenges of the Level-4 Covid-19 Lockdown Restrictions and, particularly, regarding its impact on the Wine Industry.

Western Cape Agriculture which also had a college that produced wines was affected by this hence joining wine industry partners in requesting for the regulations to be amended, to allow for the transportation of wine samples, wine by tourists and transporting of wine to bottling plants and storage. 

“Implementing the above amendments to Section 29 of the regulations published on 27 June 2021 will protect the jobs of the 45 610 people who work in the primary production side of the industry and support the livelihoods of 228 053 people,” said: MEC Ivan Meyer. 

The court interdict stems from the liquor industry partners submissions snubbed during this past weekend by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCC).

Vinpro was concerned that the latest lockdowns will not only affect wine producers, but also small wineries (more than 80% of the 529 wineries are small and medium enterprises) who were reliant in direct sales to customers. 

The regulation prohibits the transportation of liquor, except when destined for specific purposes (such as for export or the production of hand sanitisers, industrial use and others). 

“Although wine exports may continue, the industry exports less than 50% of annual production, with the other half sold on home soil. With no financial support from Government for these businesses, their prospects, and that of employees, are extremely bleak,” said: Vinpro MD Rico Basson. 

VInpro and industry partners said they had no other alternative but to challenge the ban and a preliminary date for the court hearing has been scheduled for 2 July 2021. 

“We truly believe limitations on wine sales could be imposed in a less damaging manner that would alleviate the impact on the healthcare system and decrease transmission, while still helping to preserve livelihoods,” added Basson. 

Furthermore, MEC Meyer said they had requested for the regulations to be amended in order to “allow wine and liquor to be sold online and delivered to consumers’ residences via transport/courier services.”

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