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South Africa curbs alcohol sales to combat Covid-19

Alcohol sales in South Africa have been curtailed and additional restrictions have been put in place to reduce rising Covid-19 infections.

South Africa has put additional restrictions in place due to rising Covid-19 infection numbers

President Cyril Ramaphosa said a sharp rise in new infections was a cause for concern as he detailed plans to close beaches, extend the curfew and reduce alcohol sales. He described the festive season as the “greatest threat to the health and well-being of our nation”.

On 13 December, South Africa recorded almost 8,000 new Covid-19 cases, up from more than 4,400 on 3 December. The total number of confirmed cases in South Africa is 866,127.

As such, stores will only be permitted to sell alcohol between 10am and 6pm from Monday to Thursday. Alcohol consumption in all public spaces, including beaches and parks, is strictly forbidden. A longer curfew from 11pm to 4am will also be enforced.

South Africa introduced a total ban on alcohol sales at the start of the pandemic, which lasted from 27 March to 1 June. The ban was brought back on 12 July but reversed a second time on 17 August.

Ramaphosa said: “Gatherings – especially social gatherings and parties – are the largest source of outbreaks. In many of these gatherings, social distancing is not being observed, venues are crowded and not adequately ventilated, hand sanitiser is not readily available and people are not wearing masks.

“Many people consume alcoholic drinks at these ‘super-spreader’ events, with the result that people become less careful about taking measures to protect themselves and prevent infection.”

In the UK, bars in London and some surrounding areas will be forced to close from tomorrow (16 December) except for takeaways and click-and-collect services, as the regions move into tier three, the highest level in England’s Covid-19 three-tier system.

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