The sale and purchase of alcohol suspended with immediate effect under an advanced phase of Level 3 lockdown.
The ban on sale and purchase of alcohol has been reintroduced for the second time. Most South Africans have relished the reopening of bottle stores at the beginning of Level 3 lockdown, the burden placed upon the country’s healthcare services as a result of irresponsible drinking has forced government to rethink its approach to regulations governing the availability of liquor. While addressing the nation recently on South Africa’s rapidly-rising coronavirus caseload, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that, in order to ease pressure on overwhelmed medical services, the sale and purchase of alcohol will be prohibited.
Ramaphosa’s confirmation follows weeks of political contestation; with local leaders in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape calling for a crackdown on alcohol sales.
The Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, who recently confirmed that the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) was considering harsher liquor laws, noted that both Gauteng and the Eastern Cape were inadequately prepared for the virus peak, citing a lack of hospital beds and healthcare workers.
Heeding the calls made by overworked hospital employees particularly those working in trauma units and provincial premiers, Ramaphosa revealed that the NCCC had decided to further restrict the sale of alcohol. Previously, bottle stores and restaurants were permitted to sell liquor, for off-site consumption, from Monday to Thursday, between between 09:00 and 17:00 Pm.
“This is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put in hospitals including trauma and ICU units due to motor vehicle accidents, violence and related trauma.”
TOUGHER LIQUOR LAWS THREATEN LIVELIHOODS
The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA), the Beer Association of South Africa (BASA), VinPro, Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA) and the Liquor Traders Council of South Africa (LTCSA) on their part warned that the restrictions on liquor sales could impact the livelihoods of up to a million people.
Djamila Qad Zalat