The South African wine industry is elated and truly grateful to the South African government for its decision to lift transport restrictions and allow for manufacturing and related services, which will enable the industry to fulfil its obligations with regard to wine exports.

The National Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, announced this during a media briefing last night (29 April 2020), where the level 4 regulations were released.

It is the interpretation of the industry task team that the regulations:

  • Permit the wine industry to do essential procurement and manufacturing (bottling, labelling and packaging) of wine, under strict health and safety protocols.
  • Permit the transport of wine to port and airport for export and via road, for export into neighbouring countries.
  • Permit essential support services, such as inspection and certification (SAWIS and DAFF). Read SAWIS’s official statement, including practical arrangements.

We are grateful to president Ramaphosa and the relevant government departments for the confirmation and providing certainty, and as such we endeavour to be responsible in our actions and messaging to ensure the safety of our people.

Local market

Unfortunately the sale of alcohol in the local market will remain prohibited, for now, under Level 4. This is disappointing as the industry tabled a sound risk adjusted proposal allowing for a phased approach of sales in the local market. We will deliberate further with government, who has concerns about the increased pressure on our health system. At this stage alcohol sales will only be allowed during Level 3, but there are no specific timelines for the introduction of this level.

Safeguarding protocols

As an industry we remain fully committed to implementing a safety protocol, which will effectively address transmission risks, across the value chain. The safety of our workforce, customers and consumers are of utmost concern to our business longevity.

We have already shared safety protocols for manufacturing and distribution of alcohol with government. These protocols are informed by the World Health Organisation’s guidelines, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, as well as the latest government notice from the Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL). The measures that are put in place will cover production, warehousing and distribution.

It is extremely important to be mindful of the fact that safeguarding protocols must be implemented across the wine value-chain and related activities. Whilst we are aware of the compliance pressure we need to reiterate that safety of people remain the number one priority and we would like to request all stakeholders to ensure implementation, execution and close monitoring of these protocols, to limit transmission risk and ensure a safe work environment.

Study protocols closely

In order to move forward, a number of protocols which have been developed for the SA wine industry, need to be studied very closely and implemented accordingly:

  • Protocol for wine grape producers on farm level.
  • Protocol for wine exports – bulk wine and packaged product.
  • Protocol for bottling plants and related manufacturing entities.
  • Protocol for tourism destinations (wine estates, tasting rooms and brand homes). View all relevant protocols here.

As we move along, the protocol page will be updated and also translated into Afrikaans.

Interactive session with government

Yesterday, we had an interactive session on safeguarding protocols with the provincial government and the following were key take aways from the session:

  • All the above safeguarding protocols are applicable to business owners, producers, management and agri-workers.
  • Practice due care in dealing with the employee vulnerable group.
  • Wearing of face masks is crucial.
  • Social and physical distancing is critical during transport, in the workplace and during breaks.
  • Handwashing, handwashing, handwashing with water and soap is non-negotiable.
  • Sanitisers need to be available and applied correctly – to be illustrated.
  • Surfaces such as working areas, door handles, ablution facilities need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Act swiftly once an infection is identified and/or need to be quarantined.
  • Unannounced labour inspections will be conducted; talk them through your protocol.

We call on each and every one operating in the South African wine industry to carefully study the protocols and safety measures mentioned above, and create a culture of responsible, safe and healthy citizens in the workplace and beyond. SA Wine Industry