South Africa reintroduces alcohol sales ban after Covid-19 cases spike

13 July, 2020

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has reinstated the country’s ban on alcohol sales in a bid to free up beds for Covid-19 patients.

The ban on alcohol sales was initially imposed on March 27 in order to reduce domestic violence and decrease hospital admissions. Bars remain closed, but Ramaphosa lifted the ban on off-trade sales on June 1, leading to long queues outside liquor shops.

However, he now feels compelled to reintroduce the ban after reading the riot act to people that have flouted rules designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

The number of South Africans infected has gone past the 275,000 mark, making it the 10th worst hit country in the world, and the official death toll currently stands at 4,079. Infections have topped 12,000 per day, with only the United States, Brazil and India reporting more cases.

Ramaphosa has tightened the lockdown once again, enforcing a night-time curfew, making face masks compulsory in public and reintroducing the alcohol ban.

He said: “This is a fight to save every life, and we need to save every bed. The coronavirus storm is far fiercer and more destructive than any we have known.”

The president added that “most” people had followed the rules to help prevent the spread, but said some continue to act “without any responsibility to respect and protect each other”.

Ramaphosa said: “There are a number of people who have taken to organising parties, who have drinking sprees, and some who walk around crowded spaces without wearing masks.

“We are in the midst of a deadly pandemic and we must act accordingly. We must all be responsible. The truth is we are not helpless in the face of this storm.”

The coronavirus outbreak has dealt a blow to South Africa's wine industry. Producers were allowed to complete the harvest after appealing a government order to cease all activity, but they were banned from exporting wine for several weeks this year, and domestic sales have naturally plummeted as a result of the sales ban.

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