An alcohol ban and restrictions on religious gatherings are on the cards for South Africans as the government looks to keep a lid on COVID-19 infections over the Easter period.
The country’s President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 7.30 pm today (Tuesday) on precautionary measures following deliberations with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and other stakeholders.
Kurt Moore, CEO of the South African Liquor Brandowners Association, said that they had met with the Department of Trade and Industry over possible restrictions.
“We did meet with DTi. They expressed concerns about a possible third wave over the Easter period and that they were considering restrictions on alcohol sales over the period. However, we have no idea what the details of the restrictions could be at this stage,” said Moore.
Scientists and other experts have warned of a possible spike in infections that could trigger the third wave, should restrictions on gatherings and movement not be imposed over the Easter period.
Professor Alex van den Heever, chairperson of Social Security Systems at Wits University’s School of Governance, told IOL last week that human behaviour was a driving factor and that contingent action was needed to prevent any potential super-spreaders event.
“We are not sure whether we will see the same surge, but we cannot take that risk. In December, certain measures taken had an impact and these must be considered, particularly in light of the government’s appallingly managed vaccination strategy,” said Van den Heever.
Sources close to the NCCC said that an alcohol ban was on the cards and that the government was already engaging role-players in the liquor sector over a possible shutdown.
“The talks have already begun. I think there is a fear that alcohol could be a contributing factor to fuelling gatherings and irresponsible behaviour; at the moment it looks like it is going to happen,” said the source.