South Africa imposes alcohol ban over Easter weekend following COVID-19 surge

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday announced a four-day ban on take-away alcohol consumption over the Easter weekend, over fears of a possible third wave of coronavirus infections.

South Africa, which has recorded over 1.5 million cases, has seen infection rates stabilizing in recent weeks at an average of 1,200 per day, according to the president.

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But Ramaphosa warned against complacency, saying that the role of alcohol in encouraging negligent behavior could not be understated particularly during the busy four-day weekend.

The period typically sees annual religious pilgrimages and long journeys undertaken by many inland families to holiday destinations on the coast over the Holy Week break.

Speaking in a televised address, Ramaphosa said “given the role of alcohol in fuelling reckless behavior... the sale of alcohol for off-site consumption will be prohibited this coming Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”

On-site sales of alcohol at restaurants and bars will be permitted during the four-day weekend.

“This pandemic is still very much with us. We must act with caution, not just this coming weekend but in the days, weeks and months ahead,” he said.

Despite sophisticated road networks, South African has a high rate of road fatalities blamed mostly on speeding, reckless driving, unroadworthy vehicles and failure to use seat belts.

A string of booze bans have previously been imposed in the country to ease the number of trauma cases in hospitals already burdened by coronavirus patients.

Recording over 1.5 million cases, of which 52,700 were fatalities, South Africa has been the worst hit Africa country during the coronavirus pandemic.

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