The government of the republic of South Africa has banned alcohol sales “with immediate effect” and will impose curfew from Monday July 13, 2020.
This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa Sunday night, during his address as South Africa’s coronavirus tally soared past the 276,000 mark.
South Africa as at July 12, 2020 has the world’s ninth biggest caseload of confirmed cases, ahead of Iran, Spain and Pakistan.
According to the president the move is expected to reduce the alcohol-related trauma load on hospitals and free up desperately needed resources for Covid-19 patients. But it is likely to trigger fierce opposition from the alcohol industry, which said at the weekend the livelihoods of more than 1-million people depend on the liquor supply chain.
The government’s latest move follows lobbying by several provincial governments for tighter alcohol restrictions and a return to more restrictive lockdown measures to try to curb transmission of the disease.
The alcohol ban comes just weeks after another three-month ban was lifted in an effort to prevent drunken fighting, cut domestic violence and eliminate weekend binge-drinking prevalent across South Africa.
Doctors and police say the previous ban contributed to a sharp drop in emergency admissions to hospital. But the country’s brewers and wine makers complained they were being driven out of business.
South Africa remains the hardest-hit country on the continent, and earlier this week recorded its highest-ever single-day increase in cases. Nearly half of them were in Gauteng, a province that’s become the outbreak epicentre.
In a public address, Mr Ramaphosa acknowledged “most” people had taken action to help prevent the spread, but he said there were still some who acted “without any responsibility to respect and protect each other”.
Ramaphosa then appreciated the thousands of South Africans who are on the frontline in the fight against coronavirus.
“These are the nurses, doctors and other health workers who are working tirelessly to save lives; the police, soldiers and traffic officials who are responsible for our safety; the essential service workers who have been keeping our country functioning; the religious leaders who have provided comfort and guidance; and the media workers who have kept the country informed”.
“We remember those frontline workers who have lost their lives to Covid-19, We grieve with their families, hopeful that they may find some comfort in the support and gratitude of those that they so selflessly served”, he said.