South African Breweries (SAB), part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said on Tuesday it was looking at making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for staff across its operations, the latest company in South Africa to consider such a move.
South African firms including telecoms provider MTN Group, insurers Discovery and Old Mutual, and Dis-Chem Pharmacies have already said they would require employees to have Covid-19 shots, potentially opening themselves up to legal challenges.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also said in November the government was considering making Covid-19 shots compulsory for citizens to access certain places and activities.
South Africa had seen a surge in coronavirus infections since November, driven by the new Omicron variant. While officials believe it has passed the peak of infections, they still strongly encourage vaccinations.
SAB, which makes Carling Black Label and Castle Lager beer, said it would begin a consultative process this month and a final decision on mandatory vaccines would be made in due course.
“As a pro-vaccination company, we aim to safeguard our employees in the workplace and aid the country in its drive to overcome the pandemic and recover the economy,” the brewer said in a statement.
SAB has been forced to stop selling alcohol more than four times since the pandemic started as part of efforts to free up space in hospitals burdened with alcohol-related injuries for Covid-19 patients.