Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has confirmed that South Africans will not be allowed to purchase alcohol or cigarettes under the country’s new Level 4 restrictions.
In a presentation on Wednesday evening (29 April), Dlamini-Zuma said that the sale and distribution of liquor is not permitted under any circumstances, except in the instances of businesses exporting products.
This is in line with the proposed lockdown plan which was presented on Saturday, as alcohol attracts crowds and leads to misbehaviour, Dlamini-Zuma said. The minister said that a ban on alcohol has also freed up hospital beds.
However, she noted that government has also backtracked on its decision to allow for the sale of cigarettes – and other smoking products such as electronic cigarettes – after it received more than 2,000 complaints from the public and industry stakeholders.
This is because of the health risks associated with smoking and which could exacerbate the ongoing health crisis, she said.
Some of the other lifestyle changes announced by the government include:
- Essential goods will continue to be sold, joined by hardware supplies, winter clothing and heating, and other industry-related items;
- Certain industries will only be able to open at half capacity;
- E-hailing services are able to operate, while public transport is also limited;
- No concerts, cinemas or public gatherings will be allowed;
- Exercise will be limited, with public gyms remaining closed;
- Food delivery will be available, subject to the curfew.
Ban on alcohol has led to big drop in crime
Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the ban of alcohol has resulted in a major drop in crime levels across the country and opened up hospitals to ‘ do what they’re supposed to do.’
Speaking in a parliamentary briefing on Wednesday, Cele said most murders can be attributed to alcohol in some way.
“Most murders are around the alcohol. Rapes, they are around the alcohol. It has been decided alcohol cannot be allowed to be sold under stage four,” he said.
“The unavailability of alcohol has done wonders in the fight against Covid-19.”
Restrictions on the sale on liquor is expected to persist for much of the lockdown according to the provisional regulations, with a ban on sitdown bars and shebeens expected to last for the duration of the lockdown.