Third wave latest: Could LOCAL alcohol restrictions return?

South Africa is a vast country, and although no corners of our land have been untouched by COVID-19, there are certainly some regions that are less affected than others. Now, as several provinces continue to grapple with a third wave of infections, questions about ‘local alcohol restrictions for the worst-hit areas’ have surfaced.

Where is the third wave of COVID-19 in South Africa?

Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, and North West have all been identified as four provinces now experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections. In the past few weeks, hospital admissions have been rising sharply across the board. However, some light relief may be on the way for two of these four provinces.

Gauteng’s boom in infections sticks out like a sore thumbs – Photo: NICD

In the past week, the number of average COVID-19 cases has started to decline in both the Northern Cape and Free State respectively. There’s no such luck for North West or Gauteng though, as their virus resurgence woes mount.

North West has seen one of the largest percentage increases in cases and hospitalisations in the last month – Photo: NICD

Will alcohol restrictions be imposed again?

Some believe that an upwards trend of both cases and hospitalisations could prove to be a toxic cocktail for the provincial pair. Professor Salim Abdool Karim hinted earlier today that alcohol restrictions ‘will be enforced’ as the third wave intensifies – leaving Gauteng and North West as our proverbial sitting ducks.

‘Because the main advantage of alcohol sales restrictions in a wave is the freeing up of beds, we’re likely to see restrictions on alcohol sales — such as limits on the hours of sale — when hospital beds fill up.’ | Professor Karim

Alcohol restrictions will be considered – but NOT locally

Yes, provincial governments do have the option of imposing their own restrictions, providing they get permission from the National Coronavirus Command Council first. However, it’s highly unlikely that any province would be subject to something like liquor trading restrictions, without it impacting the rest of the country.

Karim says that local lockdowns ‘do not work’, and they should not be considered in the future. Places like Gauteng and North West could opt for tighter enforcements of booze bans, but according to the former government advisor on COVID-19, no single region will be told to lock down harder than any others.

“You’ll therefore end up chopping and changing the rules all the time and it all just becomes too complicated. So it makes sense to just have one set of rules for the entire country especially because we don’t have rigid lockdowns anymore, so it doesn’t impact the same way on business.”

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Presh JM Reporter

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