New limits on alcohol sales and night-time curfew may be coming

President Cyril Ramaphosa may announce the reintroduction of a night-time curfew and new regulations curbing the sale of alcohol, according to a report from The Sunday Times.

Ramaphosa is set to address the nation this evening on the country’s lockdown, following meetings of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and cabinet during the week, as well as extensive consultations with the government’s scientific advisors.

The report stated that Ramaphosa’s cabinet has also sought legal opinion on the best ways forward for reintroducing such regulations.

New lockdown rules would come amid a rapidly growing number of active COVID-19 cases in South Africa.

As of Saturday, South Africa had recorded a total of 264,184 COVID-19 cases, a daily increase of 13,497.

Almost 4,000 deaths have been attributed to the virus, with recent daily increases exceeding 100 fatalities.

Globally, since 31 December 2019, 12.5 million cases of COVID-19 have been reported – resulting in 560,000 deaths.

The World Health Organisation this week said that the airborne spread of the virus may also be a possibility. It added, however, that the primary form of coronavirus transmission comes from respiratory droplets passed through close contact with people who are infected.

Possible changes

The request for alcohol sales to be regulated further includes the possible reduction in the hours of sale and quantities that customers may buy.

In addition, the banning or limiting of movement between provinces and the enforcement of the 70% capacity limit in taxis are expected to be addressed.

A proposal for intermittent lockdown measures which dictate that certain parts of a province be subjected to stricter lockdown regulations has reportedly been rejected, however.

Additionally, Gauteng province reportedly made a proposal that would see it return to level 4 lockdown, which was also rejected.

Surge in sales and trauma cases

The initial ban on alcohol sales during the nationwide lockdown was introduced with lockdown level 5 on 27 March, as a measure to alleviate strain on the healthcare system caused by incidents related to alcohol consumption.

With the revised regulations coming into effect under lockdown level 3 on 1 June, liquor stores were allowed to sell alcohol from Mondays to Thursdays between 09:00 and 17:00.

Retailers told MyBroadband the lifting of the ban resulted in big surges in the sale of alcohol at levels rivalling Black Friday.

South Africa’s hospitals have subsequently seen a sharp spike in alcohol-related trauma cases since the ban was lifted.

Trauma admissions had decreased by 70% at Western Cape and Gauteng hospitals during level 4 lockdown, but the lifting of the alcohol ban saw this improvement reversed significantly.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) predicted that about 5,000 patients will visit hospitals each week with injuries that are related to the consumption of alcohol.

Now read: Gauteng Premier David Makhura tests positive for COVID-19

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New limits on alcohol sales and night-time curfew may be coming