The liquor industry is pinning its hopes on the mercy of Cyril Ramaphosa and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC). They have given assurances to booze traders, vowing to keep the ale taps flowing at this stage of lockdown. But, as cases and hospitalisations continue to rise, the spectre of a FULL alcohol ban still looms large.
Measures brought in by President Ramaphosa at the end of May have had little impact on stopping the virus from spreading. It’s likely that SA will breach the 10 000 new cases per day barrier at some point this week, just days after officially entering into the third wave. And now, liquor seems to be right back in the firing line.
Professor Koleka Mlisana, who replaced Salim Abdool Karim as head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee earlier this year, wants to have a ‘serious conversation’ about the effectiveness of an alcohol ban…
“If we don’t manage, it will spill over to the healthcare facilities which we cannot have right now. At an individual level, people are not adhering to the regulations of social distancing and not wearing masks. We need to be accountable.”
“I know there are concerns about alcohol, so there definitely has to be close interactions and discussions about that. We definitely have to get into stricter restrictions right now – otherwise we will end up with a caving healthcare system.”
Another family meeting with Cyril Ramaphosa now seems inevitable. His Level 2 regulations are seemingly struggling to halt the rising tide of a third wave, and the next step on our lockdown map is Level 3 – where alcohol sales are banned completely. A return to prohibition will infuriate businesses across the country, despite having backing from elsewhere.
Charles Parry is the Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit for SAMRC. The professor notes that there is now an increase in hospitalisations and trauma cases, once again putting bed capacity at risk. He argues that a full alcohol ban WILL ease the pressure on our wards – and claims that his supporting evidence is irrefutable:
“It was predictable. With time to introduce lesser measures to curb alcohol-related trauma to free up hospital capacity for COVID patients having passed, options are few. Not sure why government has little appetite to reduce heavy drinking?”
“[The MAC] has a paper published showing the full liquor sales bans were effective in reducing hospital trauma admissions in comparison with partial sales bans which were not – we’re unsure how anyone can say that it does not work.”