South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the lifting of controversial restrictions on the sale of alcohol and tobacco related products as COVID-19 cases reduce in the court.
The president also announced the removal of most restrictions on economic activities in South Africa commencing from next week.
South Africa had one of the most restrictive lockdown policies in the world with the government banning cigarettes and alcohol as the country entered a period of lockdown on March 27 to slow the spread of covid-19.
According to South African authorities, the ban on alcohol sales became necessary to stem the pressure on hospitals and emergency wards from road accident and alcohol related injuries. This was to enable medical personnel to concentrate on the fight against covid.
The government banned cigarettes a few weeks after to reduce the health impact as well as the risk of contamination between South Africans sharing cigarette sticks.
Restrictions on alcohol sales was temporarily lifted in June but was banned again after covid-19 cases went up again in July.
Announcing the lifting of restrictions; Cyril Ramaphosa said;
“Restrictions on the sale of tobacco will be lifted, the suspension of the sale of alcohol will be lifted subject to certain restrictions.”
The South African President also announced significant progress against the spread of the virus as new daily cases have dropped from a daily high of 12,000 to about 5,000 new infections in the last one week.
South Africa became the most impacted country on the continent with more than half a million confirmed cases and 11,000 deaths. The recovery rate has also increased with 80% of confirmed cases having recovered from the virus.