Opening up alcohol sales under level 3 of the lockdown in South Africa may lead to chaos if the government implements its proposed limitations on the sale of liquor.
South Africa’s national lockdown is expected to be eased to level 3 by the end of May, and reports have stated that this may be implemented on a per-metro basis.
COVID-19 alert level 4 currently forbids the sale of alcohol, although this is expected to change when level 3 is implemented.
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Liquor Traders Association of South Africa spokesperson Sean Robinson said that limiting alcohol sales to certain hours and days of the week – as proposed in a draft level 3 document – will cause chaos.
“The risk of the spread of the virus is not going to be mitigated if those hours are imposed. It’s going to be multiplied,” he said.
He said there would likely be a crush of desperate customers during these periods, which could lead to violence and looting.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to provide more information regarding the sale of alcohol and other items under level 3 in a national address at 19:00 this evening.
This comes as South Africans continue to violate lockdown regulations, an activity which will earn them a criminal record if they sign an admission of guilt.
Police Minister Bheki Cele recently announced that over 230,000 cases have been opened for violations of COVID-19 lockdown regulations as of 19 May 2020.
This is more than double the number which had been opened at the end of April, when South Africa was still under lockdown alert level 5.
Many types of contact and trio crimes have declined since the lockdown was implemented, but there has been a significant increase in the illegal sale of alcohol.
“We have also observed an increase in smuggling of contraband (liquor and tobacco) between South Africa’s land borders with Botswana, eSwatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, as well as the sale of these products in the black market,” Cele stated.
“Criminals are opportunistic. Organised crime syndicates have taken advantage of the lockdown, especially on the ban of alcohol and cigarettes, and have expanded their illegal trade into the illegal market of illicit and counterfeit alcohol and cigarette sales,” he said.
The effects of COVID-19 and the strict national lockdown will be felt on the South African economy for at least the next three years.
This is according to Nedbank economist Busisiwe Radebe, who recently spoke about the effect of the recent SA Reserve Bank rate cut.
Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago said on Thursday they expect the country’s GDP to contract by 7% this year, following the previous forecast of 6.1%.
Nedbank’s economic models around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown show it will take at least three years to reach pre-crisis peaks.
“When it comes to things like employment, we see that taking even longer to reach the pre-crisis peak,” said Radebe.
“We will still be in this mess trying to undo it three years from now.”