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Ramaphosa Lifts Alcohol Ban, Eases Restrictions on Leisure Activities

Brown ice cold beer bottles with water drops and old opener

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has on Monday lifted the ban on alcohol sale and distribution following the lowest daily COVID-19 case to be recorded in the country.

The president addressed the country on the latest developments in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was one of his shortest “family” meetings to date in just 30 minutes.

Following a surge in recorded coronavirus cases, South Africa was last month placed on an adjusted level 3 lockdown. As part of the new restrictions imposed, the president announced the ban on alcohol sales from retail outlets, on-site consumption and consumption of alcohol in public spaces, including beaches and parks.

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Upon easing the restrictions on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa said while the country will remain under level 3 lockdown, a number of the restrictions — including the ban on the sale of alcohol, the restrictions on worship and accessing of beaches — have been lifted. The new measures will take immediate effect.

From Mondays to Thursdays from 10am to 6pm, off-site consumption alcohol sales will be allowed the president said. On-site consumption will only be permitted at licensed outlets from 10am to 10pm.

Also adjusted are the curfew hours which have now been changed to 11pm to 4am.

Religious gatherings will now be allowed but but only to a maximum of 50 people for indoor events and 100 for outdoors events;

The president also announced the reopening of Public places like beaches, dams, rivers, parks and public swimming pools.

“These changes have been made possible by the significant reduction in Covid-19 hospital admissions across all provinces, reducing the pressure on beds and hospital personnel,” said Ramaphosa.

Last week, the Beer Association of SA announced that according to its Craft Brewers Association of SA, the ban on alcohol sale has had a devastating impact on small business. According to a survey which was conducted, over 50% of craft brewers had to permanently shut down while a large majority had to destroy stock which had eventually expired.

SA Breweries also went to court to challenged the ban.

The country’s medical fraternity however welcomed the ban on alcohol, stating that it was partly responsible for the reduced pressure on an already heavily-burdened hospital system.

A photograph of an empty trauma unit at Gauteng’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital on January 1, bore testimony to how the alcohol ban significantly impacted on trauma cases.

Based on latest information from the country’s Department of Health, South Africa has over 1.4 million Covid-19 cases. The death toll stands at just over 44 000 with a recovery rate of almost 90%.

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