We hope you’ve got enough to last: Thursday will be the final day South Africans can legally buy alcohol for three weeks, as we prepare to enter an unprecedented lockdown. But why has our ale been targeted?
Explainer: The reasons why you can’t buy alcohol during lockdown
The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance in South Africa (SAAPA SA) have helped us understand the regulations a little better. Police Minister Bheki Cele – enforcing his reputation as a tough, no-nonsense cop – has staunchly pursued this alcohol ban. As the Alliance explain, the government do have their reasons:
The use of liquor “reduces a person’s ability to exercise the social distancing and personal hygiene required” to limit the spread of the virus from person to person.COVID-19 is most dangerous for people who do not have strong immune systems. Many of these citizens live in South Africa, and “the consumption liquor affects the immune system” – making one more vulnerable to the illness.Prohibition limits the possibility of an increase in incidents of domestic violence. Shoul “cabin fever” set in, alcohol has the potential to fuel and escalate these unfortunate situations.Liquor control measures will play an important part in “breaking the coronavirus chain”.The alcohol ban can dramatically reduce stress for our emergency services too. Since regulations limiting the operating hours of liquor outlets were enforced, there have been a number of reports from Community Police Forums and police stations indicating “a dramatic decrease in such liquor-related problems”.
Lockdown latest – “alternative” booze products cause concern
It’s going to suck for many of us – we’re sure there were a few people planning to booze this lockdown away – but the truth is, three weeks isn’t forever, and shoppers were given 24 hours notice before prohibition gets temporarily brought in. And judging by the contents of some trollies this morning, people are making the most most of their remaining “alcohol window”.
However, SAAPA are still worried that people will find a way round the ban. For example, some alcoholic products can disguise themselves very well – and certain vendors aren’t above selling them on:
“SAAPA SA would like to bring to government’s attention the current problem of products like Alomo Bitters which are being sold by outlets without liquor licences such as spaza shops. These are imported products, usually brought into the country illegally, that are made of a mix of herbs and around 42% alcohol.”
“They are sold, inter alia, in 50ml sachets for R5 and consumed neat or in beers and soft drinks. There is no doubt that, due to regulations, sales of these items will increase dramatically over this period, as will the sale of other unauthorised alcohol-based products. Enforcement plans must take this reality into account.”SAAPA