Queues outside Durban’s Liberty Liquors on the day the first booze ban was lifted in June last year.
Queues outside Durban’s Liberty Liquors on the day the first booze ban was lifted in June last year.

Cue the speech, cue the alcohol queues

By Zoubair Ayoob Time of article published Apr 3, 2021

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The queues which quickly formed outside liquor outlets this week, as word got out that President Cyril Ramaphosa would address the nation, were hardly surprising.

We appear to be a nation which prioritises the availability of alcohol over much else.

Nothing can be celebrated unless alcohol is consumed; not even funerals are complete without alcohol-soaked "after tears" parties.

Those who stocked up ahead of the president's speech were proved right in their caution and foresight as he announced a ban on alcohol sales for off-site consumption. However, he allowed on-site sale and consumption.

With the threat of a third wave of Covid-19 infections looming, and a history of increased alcohol-fuelled mayhem on our roads over the Easter period, this must surely rank among the most counter-intuitive decisions taken during the pandemic, even given the current relatively low infection levels.

Ramaphosa also allowed religious gatherings, popular among various faiths during this period, although they will be restricted to 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

How these numbers will be policed is unclear, leading to the inescapable conclusion that the restrictions will be ignored, and that such gatherings have the potential of becoming "super spreader" events.

We are then left at the mercy of the sensibilities of individual drinkers and of religious leaders to police themselves and their congregations ‒ hardly a comforting thought.

I, for one, will endeavour to keep off the roads over the long weekend.

This country needs to have a serious conversation about its relationship with alcohol.

The Independent on Saturday

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