South Africans will not enjoy beer during the forthcoming Easter Holidays after President Ramaphosa Cyril bans liquor sales. Off-site liquor sales will be prohibited from Good Friday until the following Monday (Family Day), according to Ramaphosa, “considering the role of alcohol in fueling irresponsible behavior.” Ramaphosa has maintained South Africa on lockdown level 1 regardless of the long Easter holiday, but with a few amendments to liquor sales.
“Just those four days,” the president said on Tuesday.
However, on-site sales of liquor at restaurants remain permitted, under the establishment’s license conditions, with a curfew that starts at midnight and ends at 4 am. South Africa has by far conducted 9, 844, 835 COVID-19 tests with cases totaling 1, 546, 735 and 1, 473, 588 recoveries and 52 788 deaths since the pandemic struck. The rainbow nation has so far vaccinated 251,707 citizens.
The Beer Association of South Africa (Basa) has slammed the government’s move to curtail liquor sales over the Easter weekend, saying it is “unnecessary” and has “no valid basis.” The liquor industry under its umbrella body, the South Africa Liquor Brand Owners Association (Salba), said there is no scientific evidence that the off-site sales of alcohol might lead to an increased spread of the virus.
“There is, however, ample evidence that restrictions on alcohol sales have been a boost to the illicit alcohol industry—to the detriment of government revenue and public health,” the group said.
Basa comprises the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken, South Africa, and South African Breweries.
“We simply cannot continue to operate under the constant uncertainty that our industry has faced with every holiday, where our ability to trade is at risk of being limited with no proper justification.” “Currently, there has been no increase in cases despite the alcohol industry being open. There has been no increase in trauma unit cases reported justifying shutting down the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption over the Easter holidays,” Basa said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Ramaphosa also relaxed restrictions on religious events, announcing that parties would be limited to 250 people indoors and 500 outside, with smaller venues required to stay within 50 percent of their permitted capacity.
“We continue to urge all South Africans to avoid gatherings if they are in a vulnerable group, such as the elderly and those with comorbidities. We also urge that gatherings should occur in outdoor venues, which are significantly safer than gathering indoors. We will review these measures on the size of gatherings within the next 15 days based on an assessment of the state of the pandemic and the extent of compliance with health protocols,” Ramaphosa said.
He also said they would permit inter-regional movement, but he recommended caution.
“I urge all South Africans to limit their travel as much as possible and to observe all the health protocols if they cannot avoid traveling.”
This address comes after the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) reportedly advised the government to move the country to Alert Level 2 lockdown to minimize the risk of a third wave of Covid-19 infections after the Easter break.