Struggling South Africa’s liquor makers want restrictions on the sale of alcohol eased during an extended lockdown.
On Thursday, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the extension of the lockdown by two more weeks. For more read: Coronavirus: South Africa Extends Lockdown by Two Week
The lockdown, which started on 26 March 2020, was due to expire on 16 April.
South Africa’s first case of COVID-19 was reported on 5 March 2020, when a KwaZulu-Natal man came back home after travelling abroad.
The Sunday Times reported that the government is putting together an emergency plan to kick-start SA’s economy after the lockdown, in a bid to stave off a jobs bloodbath that economists fear could take unemployment to more than 50%.
And the national command council, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is tomorrow expected to discuss proposals from some industries to ease certain restrictions during the lockdown, too.
Among them are lobbies from the tobacco and alcohol sectors (the Beer Association of South Africa), as well as a call to allow fast-food outlets to reopen, the report states.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has come out guns blazing against mounting calls for the government to allow the sale of alcohol during the lockdown.
Cele said it is wrong to make alcohol the centre of the debate when people are losing their lives due to COVID-19, calling people who want the ban of the sale of alcohol to be lifted as not being “serious” about life.
“The figures we got this morning from the United States this morning (Saturday) is that more than 2 000 people died of COVID-19 in a single day in that country,” Cele said.
“We all agree that the broader economy is suffering, people are losing jobs and there will be liquidations. So alcohol can not be the centre of complaints when we are facing a serious problem.”
The Beer Association of South Africa has submitted their proposals to open up taverns to government.
Amongst the organisation’s proposal is that government allow bottle stores and taverns (newly made takeaway-only) to operate between 9am and 6pPM on weekdays, up to 4PM on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays and public holidays, such as the upcoming Freedom Day, according to Business Insider.
The country’s COVID-19 cases have risen to 2028 with 25 deaths.
“The total number of COVID-19 tests conducted to date is 75 053,” Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Saturday.
The EFF has rejected calls for the ban on alcohol sales to be lifted during lockdown.
“Is is a call not based scientific rationale, as there is nothing essential about alcohol and it will only serve a destructive purpose at a time when we all need to practice maximum discipline and self-control,” the party said in a statement.