South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said a controversial ban on the sale of alcohol would be lifted for home consumption when the country moves into level three of a five-tier coronavirus lockdown next month.
South Africans were prohibited from buying alcohol and cigarettes when the country went into one of the world’s strictest lockdowns on March 27.
The alcohol ban in South Africa was meant to prevent a spike in violence and reduce pressure on emergency wards as hospitals gear up to face a virus that has infected at least 22,583 people across country and killed 429.
“Alcohol will be sold for home consumption only under strict conditions on specified days and for limited hours,” Ramaphosa announced in an address to the nation.
“The sale of tobacco products will remain prohibited in alert level 3 due to the health risks associated with smoking,” he added.
South Africa started gradually easing confinement measures on May 1, allowing citizens to exercise outdoors in the morning and some businesses to partially resume operations.
Ramaphosa said the alert level would now be lowered from level four to three from June 1, with a “differentiated approach” to deal with “coronavirus hotspots”.