By Kaya 959 News
The alcohol industry has welcomed the country’s move to an adjusted alert level 2, more especially as there was no move by the government to further restrict alcohol sales.
However, the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPASA) is concerned that the president did not announce specific measures targeting the use of alcohol.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that as part of the heightened restrictions, curfew times will be changed and there will be a limit on gatherings.
SAAPASA said it did not believe that the extension of the curfew and the limiting of gatherings go far enough.
“We think a curfew starting at 10pm, not 11pm, would have been more effective, as would restricting gatherings further to 50 indoors and 100 outdoors,” the Alliance said.
It said it is common knowledge that alcohol impairs decision-making abilities, leading to the flouting of the very Covid-19 protocols that are at the heart of the country’s strategy for defeating the virus.
“Our hope is that the government will monitor the situation closely and introduce new measures if those announced tonight don’t have the desired impact. This may need to include action to partially restrict access to alcohol to prevent an exponential rise in the infection rate,” the Alliance said.
Effective restrictions needed
SAAPASA said like many in the country, they are concerned about the economic impact of a complete ban on alcohol and so believe that we need to impose restrictions that will be effective in containing the virus and avoid having to impose a complete ban again.
The Alliance has already submitted its recommendations on temporary alcohol restrictions which can prevent a further spike in COVID-19 infections as the country’s daily infection rate climbs, to Cabinet, National Coronavirus Command Council and the Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“Although SAAPA SA regularly interacts with government at all levels and engages in public participatory processes related to alcohol legislation regularly we would once again like to implore government to take note of the voice of civil society and researchers in the health sector when making determinations on alcohol restrictions,” the Alliance said.
SAAPA SA believes the government must not wait for the health system to become overburdened before new mitigating measures are introduced.
This includes the question of what to do to prevent the use of alcohol contributing to the spread of the virus and to an overload on trauma units in hospitals.
Most importantly, how can the country avoid having to endure a fourth full suspension of access to alcohol.