Ramaphosa to address South Africa on Covid-19 lockdown on Monday evening

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation at 20h00 on Monday (1 February) to discuss developments in relation to the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The address follows meetings in recent days of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet,” the presidency said in a statement.

“The president’s address will be broadcast and streamed on a range of platforms that are accessible to South Africans and international audiences.”

Ramaphosa is expected to address the country’s adjusted level 3 lockdown and ongoing restrictions, including the prohibition on the sale of alcohol.

The country introduced new restrictions on 29 December as it grappled with the impact of a second Covid-19 wave. However, data from health authorities shows that the country has likely passed the peak in infections.

Alcohol

A key consideration around the president’s address will be the issue of alcohol sales.

News24 reported that discussions are underway in several government departments to consider the possibility of lifting the alcohol ban as infection rates ease.

The opening of beaches, the evening curfew and concerns around the opening of schools are also issues which have been raised, and are likely to considered.

The South African Liquor Brand owners Association (SALBA) says the most recent data on South Africa’s Covid-19 hospitalisations point to a steady decline, indicating that the latest ban has done its job.

Sibani Mngadi, chairperson of SALBA, said: “Available data does not back government’s argument that the current prohibition of sale of alcohol is being maintained to preserve the maximum capacity in the health system to handle a surge in Covid-19 admissions.”

Mngadi added that it was now time for the government to roll back the prohibition to limit further losses of jobs and revenue for the sector.

“With the first two bans, alcohol excise tax contribution to government declined by more than 28% from R47 billion in 2019/20 to R34 billion in 2020/21.

“This R13 billion loss in alcohol tax revenue could have easily compensated for the investment needed in procurement of vaccines and other measures needed to curb the impact of Covid-19 on our society,” said Mngadi.


Read: South Africa to get clarity on the reopening of schools

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Ramaphosa to address South Africa on Covid-19 lockdown on Monday evening