South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa has reimposed an alcohol ban for the third time this year. After a Cabinet meeting and an emergency meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council, he announced in an address to the nation on Monday evening that the alcohol ban and other increased restrictions were necessary because of a surge in COVID-19 infections which had pushed South Africa’s total confirmed virus cases past 1 million.
“Reckless behavior due to alcohol intoxication has contributed to increased transmission. Alcohol-related accidents and violence are putting pressure on our hospital emergency units,” he said. “As we had to in the early days of the lockdown, we now have to flatten the curve to protect the capacity of our healthcare system to enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infections,”
The first ban on alcohol was imposed as part of a COVID-19 lockdown on March 27 (inside.beer, 8.5.2020) and was lifted on June 1. Only a few weeks later, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa reinstated the controversial measure on July 12 without prior notice, which was lifted again on August 17. (inside.beer, 17.8.2020)
The Beer Association of South Africa (BASA) heavily opposed the new measure and warned that a third alcohol ban for the country will lead to further job losses and increase illicit sales. “It is not good demonizing an entire industry or restricting the freedom of those that enjoy a drink in a responsible matter,” said Patricia Pillay, CEO of the BASA. Instead, she added “we do need to fight alcohol abuse, but we need to do so in a way that specifically tackles the problem of abuse.”