For many, the answer is a resounding “Yes” – but what are the potential implications of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest announcement?
On Sunday evening, South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation and announced that the country would be lowering its Covid-19 response to level 3 from the first of June. While this announcement was expected (following the President’s previous address) there were two specific measures that many were hoping for clarity on while he spoke: The sale of alcohol, and the sale of tobacco.
Ramaphosa announced that alcohol sales would resume from the moment level 3 kicked in, but only on specific days and under strict conditions. Tobacco sales, however, would remain prohibited.
The reaction to the booze news was… well, see for yourself:
While the sale of alcohol was always prescribed as a level 3 measure, the resumption of its sale is still a topic of contention for many.
Why was alcohol banned in the first place?
The government was no doubt encouraged by the early signs of a sober South Africa. Initially, the lockdown was only meant to last for about three weeks but we are now on day 60 of life in lockdown – and day 60 without a drop of alcohol being legally sold in Mzansi.
At the time that it was banned, the government cited a number of health and socio-economic reasons. Most notably:
- Alcohol use (and abuse) impairs judgement and leads to poor decision making and lax discipline.
- Alcohol consumption weakens the body’s immune system.
- Alcohol contributes to crime and the lack of criminal activity in recent months can (according to Bheki Cele) be attributed to a more sober South Africa.
Is alcohol any safer than any other “banned” substance/activity?
When South Africa first moved to level four, Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the sale of tobacco products could resume. This move was repealed by his cabinet, with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Bheki Cele leading the charge to continue with the ban on tobacco sales.
With level three on the horizon, the sale of cigarettes and tobacco will continue to be prohibited in South Africa. Other activities such as gambling, and social visits remain banned.
Needless to say, the community of tobacco consumers/producers is not pleased with these latest developments.
What are other countries doing about alcohol?
India banned the sale of alcohol for close to 6 weeks after the government initiated a lockdown in response to Covid-19. Thailand also temporarily prohibited the sale of booze. Closer to home, South Africa’s neighbour Zimbabwe also announced a ban on alcohol.
However, for the most part, many of the world’s countries have continued the sale of alcohol, with Australia even labelling it as an “essential service”!
Can we trust ourselves?
That is the million Rand question. Provided that nobody (we’re looking at you Dlamini-Zuma and Cele) changes the president’s mind, alcohol will be back on sale next week. With that in mind, we expect a surge of customers to visit their favourite bottle stores in the first few days after the ban is lifted.
Will safe social distancing be practised? Will people continue to make safe and sound decisions even with the re-introduction of alcohol in their lives? Share your thoughts with us on social media or in the comments section below.