Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has outlined the reasoning behind South Africa’s new lockdown regulations, which include a ban on alcohol and the mandatory wearing of masks.
Speaking at a media briefing on 13 July 2020, Dlamini-Zuma said that the reintroduction of the alcohol ban was done to combat the accelerating spread of the virus.
She acknowledged that South Africa previously opened up various sectors of the economy as the number of cases continued to increase.
“We were forced to do that because of our unique situation where we had to balance saving lives and saving livelihoods,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
“We have allowed a lot of economic activities precisely for that balance.”
Dlamini-Zuma stressed that wearing a cloth mask or other face covering was now mandatory, and she conveyed the importance of social distancing for combatting the spread of the virus in South Africa.
“Social distancing still remains important and it is also all of our responsibilities, not just one person’s responsibility that social distancing is kept.”
“We should avoid activities that lend themselves to not keeping to those responsibilities; that is why social gatherings are still not allowed,” she said.
Why alcohol is banned
Dlamini-Zuma explained that the sale of alcohol resulted in behaviours which conflicted with these responsibilities, and that was one reason why it has been banned.
“Alcohol will not be sold and it should not be transported, and this is very important because when people are drinking in groups, they let their guard down.”
She said that in these cases, people will not continue to wear their masks or observe social distancing, resulting in a higher risk of the virus spreading.
“We have seen it in many instances. The way alcohol brings people together, it discourages people from wearing masks, social distancing, and sanitising,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
“When people have taken liquor, they get drunk – some become violent, start fighting, killing each other, or even at home they become violent.”
These people then have to be rushed to hospital, she said, which results in them taking up a bed which should be used to treat those who are seriously ill with COVID-19.
Dlamini-Zuma added that when South Africans encounter others who are still selling alcohol, they should tell them to stop or threaten to call the police.
“It should be our responsibility when we see somebody still selling alcohol to say to that person: ‘Don’t sell alcohol, otherwise we will call the police.'”
Read more about the new lockdown regulations and their penalties in our article on the topic.