Mbabane: Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini has given an official announcement of the extension of the ban on the production and distribution of liquor for the duration of September.
This comes after the two month ban that was announced in June and was supposed to end on September 1.
“A review to determine whether the sale of alcohol can be allowed in October will be made at the end of September.” Dlamini said during press briefing held at the Cabinet offices on Saturday. Dlamini explained that the decision on lifting booze ban will be informed by the behavior of this highly unpredictable virus over the course this month. Reports from teams conducting case investigation have shown clusters of COVID-19 cases that are related to group alcohol consumption episodes, where some people have gone to the extent of sharing one drinking container.
Dlamini added that health experts have informed government that continued drinking of alcohol results in multiple effects in the body, which may result in poor outcomes for those infected with COVID19. High alcohol consumption among the population presents a risk of undoing the gains we have made.
PM said the country needs to at least attain less than 50 active cases to reduce the risk of transmission of #COVID19 through gatherings. Currently there are more than 700 active cases. Of concern is the high rate of deaths which now stands at around 2%, among the highest in the region.
Dlamini reminded the nation that Eswatini is among countries identified to have high per capita consumption of alcohol globally, estimated to be at 9.9 liters per capita compared to a global average of 6.4 liters per capita, according to a WHO report of 2018. Dlamini said when alcohol selling is eventually allowed, it will be implemented in a phased approach that introduces limits in the number of litres sold by retailers. The intention is to lower the number of liters of alcohol consumed per capita during this COVID-19 period.
The Prime Minister said Government will continue engaging all stakeholders in the business of selling alcohol to minimize the economic impact of such a tough yet necessary decision. All our attempts to achieve a considerable and sustained decline in new COVID-19 deaths and infections will yield to nothing if we do not collectively adhere to all health guidelines and precautions to contain the spread of the virus.
PM concluded by saying this is indeed an unprecedented period in our history. Like in any battle, a lot of sacrifice has to be made in order to emerge victorious. “United we will come out of the dark channels of this enemy with our heads high.”