Alcohol No Longer Up for Sale in South Africa
Liquor stores are closed in downtown Johannesburg after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday a nationwide ban on the selling of alcohol and made mask-wearing in public spaces mandatory from Tuesday.
The move is to help reduce the pressure on emergency services after the nation became the first in Africa to record one million coronavirus cases.
Africa's worst-hit country previously banned alcohol sales in March at the onset of the pandemic and the president referenced data showing that "excessive alcohol consumption" leads to an increase in trauma cases reported at hospitals, causing an "unnecessary" strain on public health facilities — with over 41,000 health workers having contracted Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
Ramaphosa also justified the new coronavirus-prevention measures by the "rapid rise" in infections, most by a new strain of the virus feared to be more contagious — pointing a finger at "super-spreader" social events and an "extreme lack of vigilance over the holiday period."
"Unless we act now and unless we act decisively, the number of new infections will far exceed what we experienced during the first wave and thousands more people will lose their lives," Ramaphosa said.
The country's curfew — previously from 11 pm, will now start at 9 pm while non-essential establishments such as shops, bars and restaurants will close from 8 pm.
All large gatherings — whether held inside or outside, will be prohibited for the next two weeks. Except for funerals which will be limited to 50 people.
South Africa passed one million recorded coronavirus cases on Sunday, while it has registered nearly 27,000 deaths.
The World Health Organisation warned that pandemics far more deadly than Covid-19 may lie ahead.
Nations around the world are struggling with winter spikes in infections that have pushed the global caseload close to 81 million — even as the rollout of vaccines gathers pace in North America and Europe.