Cigarette ban will eventually be lifted, says Ramaphosa
CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products during the lockdown will eventually be lifted.
Ramaphosa was responding to a question from a South African during a virtual imbizo on Wednesday evening. The imbizo was organised to discuss some of the Covid-19 issues and challenges the country is facing.
Ramaphosa said the nation would not be in lockdown forever and that while the ban on cigarettes remains in place, it will with time be lifted.
Last week, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed a court challenge by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) which was seeking to get government to overturn its decision to ban the sale of cigarettes and declare it an essential service.
Ramaphosa said the lockdown allowed government to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and upscale screening and testing efforts.
“The reality is that we could not remain under lockdown forever. People need to earn a living. Learners need to continue with their education. Businesses need to reopen to survive and for their staff to keep their jobs,” he said.
Another listener asked the president about the unbanning of alcohol sales and lifting of curfews, to which he responded “it was felt that alcohol should be lifted at alert level three.”
“The rationale was that we could not keep a number of sectors closed forever. But at the same time after we lifted the ban we started seeing the ugly side of our social lives where there has been excessive abuse of alcohol which has led to ills such as gender-based violence and road accidents.”
In response to a question about the reopening of schools Ramaphosa said that while lives need to be protected, livelihoods also need to be protected and the academic year needed to continue.
He said it was a calculated risk that millions of learners return to school. - Additional reporting by IOL Reporter.
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CORONAVIRUS MONITOR and IOL