Ramaphosa Expected to Lift Alcohol Ban as Level 2 Draws Near

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According to reports, President Cyril Ramaphosa is preparing to ease lockdown restrictions, including the possible undoing of the ban on alcohol sales.

EWN reported that the country could move to alert level 2, although some anonymous insiders told the network that details of which curbs will be retained are still being looked at.

The sources told EWN that a decision had to be made regarding the sale of alcohol and that tobacco sales would be scrapped, while travel restrictions would be relaxed.

However, Lungi Mtshali, a spokesperson for the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Ministry, which administers the lockdown rules, said, “The measures that we have put in place have been working, and we are seeing a tapering off of the number of infections. The numbers are going down, and regular assessments will be done to open up the economy when ready.”

Tyrone Seale, Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson, said he could not immediately comment.

Rumours of an easing on restrictions started circulating when Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a radio interview on Wednesday that the lockdown rules should be eased because there have been declines in cases in the four most-populous provinces – Gauteng, Western Cape, KZN, and the Eastern Cape.

Lockdown Has a Devastating Economic Impact

The lockdown has had a devastating effect on Africa’s most industrialised economy, with both the central bank and National Treasury anticipating it will contract by more than 7% this year.

A study conducted by a group of 30 academics and researchers has estimated that 3 million people lost their jobs between February and April, while 1.5 million others were furloughed (put on temporary leave).

Many wine businesses have already been forced to close down and an extension of the alcohol sales ban would wipe out those that are still operating, casting tens of thousands of people out of work, according to Vinpro, an industry body.

“Our producers are already preparing for the 2021 wine harvest,” Rico Basson, Vinpro’s managing director, said in an emailed statement.

“However, with close to 300 million litres of surplus wine still in cellar tanks, we might not have space for the new crop. The situation is dire.”

South Africa is the country with the fifth most confirmed cases in the world with 566,109 confirmed cases.