Liquor still a no-no as government eases Covid-19 lockdown measures

23 April 2020 - 23:20 By ANDISIWE MAKINANA
The sale of alcohol is prohibited during the lockdown.
The sale of alcohol is prohibited during the lockdown.
Image: iStock / Izusek

Drinkers will have to endure several more weeks without their favourite tipple when the current Covid-19 lockdown comes to an end next week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that SA was still at a high risk and drastic measures were required to contain the spread of the virus. But beyond April 30, the country will move to a level where some activity will be allowed to resume — with a number of lockdown restrictions still remaining in place.

The National Coronavirus Command Council has devised an approach that determines the measures that should be in place based on the direction of the pandemic in the country. As part of this approach, there are five coronavirus levels, with level 5, which SA is currently at, requiring the most stringent measures.

“When the country moves to level 4 on May 1, our borders will remain closed to international travel, except for the repatriation of SA nationals and foreign citizens,” said Ramaphosa.

“No travel will be allowed between provinces, except for the transportation of goods and exceptional circumstances such as funerals.

“Public transport will continue to operate, with limitations on the number of passengers and stringent hygiene requirements, including that all passengers must wear a face mask,” he added.

The public is encouraged to stay at home, other than for essential personal movement, doing essential work and work in sectors that are under controlled opening.

“People can exercise under strict public health conditions,” he said.

It is not clear however whether jogging and dog-walking will be allowed under those conditions.

All gatherings, apart from funerals and for work, remain prohibited. The president emphasised that the elderly, and those with underlying conditions, have to remain at home and take additional precautions to isolate themselves.

While the sale of cigarettes will be permitted, the government has not lifted the ban on the sale of liquor.

While the sale of cigarettes will be permitted, the government has not lifted the ban on the sale of liquor.

“It is important to note that several restrictions will remain in place regardless of the level of alert for as long as the risk of transmission is present,” he said, adding that bars and shebeens would remain closed.

Conference and convention centres, entertainment venues, cinemas and theatres will also remain closed and there will be no return to concerts, sporting events, and religious, cultural and social gatherings.

Ramaphosa repeated the call for South Africans to wear a face mask whenever they leave home.

The clothing and textile industry — including many small businesses — is gearing up to produce these masks on a mass scale.

Ramaphosa explained that from the moment he declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a national disaster on March 15, the government's objective was to delay the spread of the virus.

He said there was clear evidence that the lockdown was working and together with the other measures introduced by the state, such as closing borders and the changes in behaviour, the lockdown has slowed the progression of the pandemic in this country.

Beyond April 30, the government will begin a gradual and phased recovery of economic activity by implementing a risk-adjusted strategy through which a deliberate and cautious approach to the easing of current lockdown restrictions will be taken.

“This approach is guided by the advice from scientists who have advised that an abrupt and uncontrolled lifting of restrictions could cause a massive resurgence in infections.

“We cannot take action today that we will deeply regret tomorrow,” said the president.

“We must avoid a rushed reopening that could risk a spread, which would need to be followed by another hard lockdown, as has happened in other countries.”