South Africans woke up to some rather pleasant news on Monday as their President, Cyril Ramaphosa lifted the ban on alcohol sale in the country while citing rules of engagement. As part of steps being taken to ease down restriction of certain activities, President Ramaphosa stated that “alcohol will resume, but only between 09:00 and 17:00 and not on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays”.
Also, as a measure to implement social distancing and in curbing public gathering to limit the spread of the virus, he intimated that alcohol can only be drunk at home rather than the pubs sold at.
As on Monday, winding queues had formed outside shops selling alcohol in the country after news of the easing of restriction on its sale. Hitherto, stringent measures were put in place to fight and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on lives and the economy.
The country is known for its alcohol-fueled violence, and the ban gave the police and hospital ample room to better center on mitigating the effects of the virus. In a similar vein, doctors have corroborated the stance of the police by saying, “it has had a dramatic impact, contributing to a sharp drop in casualties”.
Prior to the lifting of the ban, and as resonated across a wide spectrum of businesses and companies, the government had borne the brunt of the imposition, with their huge loss of revenue during the lockdown, and the country’s local brewers and winemakers had complained about the dire implication of the ban on their businesses and that they were being driven out in the cold.
Despite the lifting of the ban, local authorities had advised patrons of alcoholic beverages to exercise discretion and restrain from “gold-rushing” the drink, further admonishing them to rather stash the beverage for the week to avert crowding and also the potential risk of infection and/or transmission.
Social media platforms were the reflected imaged of the excitement garnered from the President’s declaration as the names of popular spots in South Africa broke the internet. With ecstatic crowd celebrating and belting out victory songs over the government's rescinded ban and decision on the intrinsically important ‘commodity’ in South Africa.
For instance, in the township of Macassar, close to Cape Town, individuals were purported to have engaged in long winding queues as early as 4 am, all in a bid to secure their liquor before sprinting to work.
Currently, South Africa has 32, 683 confirmed cases, 16, 809 recovery, and 683 deaths and has reneged on its decision to open schools and contemplating how churches could safely resume, according to the Associated Press. So for some residents and citizens, the alcohol respite is a welcome relief to offset any tension and worry with the current goings-on.