By Daniel Itai, Johannesburg, South Africa
Restrictions on alcohol sales are once again being debated within the South African midst due to the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
To date, the country has recorded 716 759 COVID-19 cases with 19 008 succumbing to the deadly virus and 646 721 recoveries. Regardless, South African Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group CEO, Peter Ucko, has since called on the government to impose stringent restrictions on the sale of alcohol.
“The virus is spread by droplets and people lose control when they get drunk. People don’t wear their masks when they are drinking and there is shouting and singing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the President resorts to a more stringent level of the current lockdown. South Africans are not able to control themselves and this time the second wave might hit us harder. Moreover, alcohol doesn’t have a net benefit to our country,” said Ucko.
However, Professor. Alex van den Heever, Chairperson of the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Governance of Social Security Systems Administration and Management, rubbished the notion of reimposing stringent measures on the sale of alcohol.
“The relationship between alcohol and COVID-19 transmission is nonsensical as long as people are in congested areas whether they are drinking alcohol or not that will exacerbate the rate of transmission.
We need to prohibit large gatherings and encourage the wearing of masks as well as ensuring that taxis are putting their windows down. We need to prohibit super spreading. However, general prohibitions won’t address the COVID-19 pandemic, ventilation and avoidance of large gatherings are pertinent,” said Professor Heever.