South Africa bans alcohol to contain spread of coronavirus

President Cyril Ramaphosa

South Africa has banned alcohol sales once again to help contain the spread of coronavirus.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the alcohol ban – South Africa’s second this year – would take pressure off the national healthcare system.

It comes as total infections exceed a quarter of a million. Deaths resulting from coronavirus have also risen to more than 4,000, and government projections estimate this could rise to 50,000 by the end of the year.

In a public address, Mr Ramaphosa acknowledged “most” people had taken action to help prevent the spread, but he said there were still some who acted “without any responsibility to respect and protect each other.”

“There are a number of people who have taken to organising parties, who have drinking sprees, and some who walk around crowded spaces without wearing masks,” said the president.

The alcohol ban comes just weeks after another three-month ban was lifted in an effort to prevent drunken fighting, cut domestic violence and eliminate weekend binge-drinking prevalent across South Africa.

Doctors and police say the previous ban contributed to a sharp drop in emergency admissions to hospital. But the country’s brewers and wine makers complained they were being driven out of business.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said the government was avoiding taking responsibility for the crisis and shifting blame to the citizens.

“The argument that alcohol trauma is putting the system under pressure is simply an excuse and cover-up for this failure. Alcohol is the scapegoat, not the reason,” it said on Twitter.

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