Coronavirus: discontent over alcohol ban in South Africa


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The immediate ban on the sale of alcohol in South Africa not only shocked many people, but also aroused dissatisfaction in some quarters.

The country’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, has accused the government of using the alcohol ban as a scapegoat for its failure to provide adequate health care in the context of the coronavirus crisis, according to our reporter in Johannesburg, Pumza Fihlani.

Businesses aren’t happy either. The alcohol industry is a major employer and concerns have been expressed about how the livelihoods of those who depend on this industry will be protected in the coming weeks. Also read:

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But President Cyril Ramaphosa and his government believe the decision – although difficult to make – is necessary if the country has any hope of saving lives.

Coronavirus infections have soared in the past two weeks, putting enormous pressure on the health care system – particularly the public hospitals on which 80% of the population depend.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africa is facing a storm

Public hospitals are simply running out of beds, and part of this, health experts say, is due to alcohol-related trauma cases. Some 40,000 trauma cases seen in hospitals here in recent times weeks are related to alcohol – which the health care system cannot afford right now. It is a rudimentary balance between saving lives and preserving livelihoods – and it is an impossible dance , reports Pumza Fihlani (BBC World Service).

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Why ban alcohol

South Africa has introduced new restrictions, including a new ban on the sale of alcohol, to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.

A night curfew has been imposed, and the wearing of masks outside is now compulsory.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the alcohol ban – the second in South Africa this year – would reduce pressure on the national health system.

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The alcohol ban comes just weeks after another three-month ban was lifted to prevent drunken fights, reduce domestic violence and eliminate binge drinking weekend prevailing throughout South Africa.

Doctors and police say the previous ban contributed to a sharp drop in emergency hospital admissions.

But the country’s brewers and winegrowers complained that they were kicked out of business.

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In a public speech, Ramaphosa acknowledged that “most” people have taken steps to help prevent the spread, but said some are still acting “with no responsibility to respect and protect each other. other”.

“There are a number of people who have started partying, drinking, and walking around crowded places without wearing masks,” said the president.

Ramaphosa said new measures are being introduced to help the country weather the coronavirus storm, and that the state of emergency will be extended until August 15.

The night ban will be in effect from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The government has also made 28,000 hospital beds available for patients with Covid-19. But President Ramaphosa said the country still faces a “serious” shortage of more than 12,000 health workers, including nurses, doctors and physiotherapists.

South Africa remains the most affected country on the continent and recorded the highest increase in cases in a single day earlier this week.

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