DURBAN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has lifted the ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol after the country recorded the lowest daily increase in infections on Monday.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on the latest developments in the country in relation to the coronavirus pandemic, which was one of his shortest “family” meetings to date in just 30 minutes.
Last month, Ramaphosa had placed the country on an adjusted level 3 lockdown. As part of the regulations, he announced the ban on alcohol sales from retail outlets, on-site consumption and consumption of alcohol in public spaces, including parks and beaches.
Tonight, Ramaphosa said while the country will remain under lockdown level 3, a number of the restrictions — including the ban on the sale of alcohol, the restrictions on worship and accessing of beaches — have been lifted. The new measures will take immediate effect.
Ramaphosa said off-site consumption alcohol sales will be allowed from Mondays to Thursdays from 10am to 6pm. On-site consumption will be permitted at licensed outlets from 10am to 10pm.
The curfew hours have been adjusted to 11pm to 4am.
Non-essential establishments, including bars and restaurants, must close at 10pm.
Faith-based gatherings will be allowed, but only to a maximum of 50 people for indoor events and 100 for outdoors events;
Public places like beaches, dams, rivers, parks and public swimming pools will be reopened.
“These changes have been made possible by the significant reduction in Covid-19 hospital admissions across all provinces, reducing the pressure on beds and hospital personnel,” said Ramaphosa.
Last week, the Beer Association of SA announced that according to its Craft Brewers Association of SA, the ban has had a devastating impact on small business. A survey revealed that more than 50% of craft brewers had to shut down permanently while a large majority had to destroy stock due to expiration dates.
SA Breweries also challenged the ban in court.
Despite the uproar, the country's medical fraternity welcomed the booze ban, adding that it lessened the pressure on an already heavily-burdened hospital system.
On New Year's Day, a photograph of an empty trauma unit at Gauteng's Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital bore testimony to how the alcohol ban significantly impacted on trauma cases.
According to the latest information from the Department of Health, South Africa has more than 1.4 million Covid-19 cases. The death toll stands at just over 44 000 with a recovery rate of almost 90%.