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Africa - Editor's Picks - August 19, 2020

COVID-19, SOUTH AFRICA: Ban On Alcohol, Cigarette Sales Lifted

South Africa lifted its coronavirus-linked ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said, announcing the removal of “nearly all restrictions” on economic activities.

The virus-related ban on the purchase of booze and cigarettes has been controversial, and no other country has introduced both measures together.

It came into effect when South Africa went into a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Alcohol sales were prohibited to ease pressure on hospitals, allowing doctors in emergency wards to focus on Covid-19 rather than road accidents and other booze-related injuries.

Tobacco products were restricted because of the health impacts of smoking as well as the risk of contamination between people sharing cigarettes.

While tobacco sales have been forbidden since the start of lockdown, alcohol purchases were tentatively re-authorised in June and banned again when cases spiked the following month.

“Restrictions on the sale of tobacco will be lifted, the suspension of the sale of alcohol will be lifted subject to certain restrictions,” Ramaphosa said

Bars will be allowed to re-open, and both family gatherings and social visits will be authorised. A 10:00 pm curfew remains in place however, and the wearing of face coverings is still compulsory in public spaces. International borders are to stay closed for the time being and gatherings are still capped at 50 people.

“The further easing of restrictions presents us with the greatest opportunity… to breathe life into our struggling economy,” the president said.

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