File: Customers buy alcohol at a liquor shop. AFP/Michele Spatari
JOHANNESBURG - South Africa will lift its coronavirus-linked ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products on Tuesday.
The purchase of alcohol and cigarettes was banned when the country went into a strict nationwide lockdown on 27 March 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 alcohol-related injuries.
Tobacco products were restricted because of the health impacts of smoking as well as the risk of contamination between people sharing cigarettes.
The Beer Association of South Africa says lifting the alcohol sales ban will be a lifeline for restaurants and other businesses.
The association's CEO Patricia Pillay said the industry is working together with government to help revive the sector.
But not everyone is excited.
Liquor industry specialist Mondli Ponto Masubelele said the sector is damaged.
"As an importer and exporter of alcohol, I am not satisfied with what the president has said," said Masubelele.
"It does not solve the problem. COVID-19 has damaged the industry tremendously, it will take five years to get it right."
Meanwhile, tobacco industry roleplayers aren't ready to smoke the peace pipe with government just yet.
The Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) took government to court over the ban and says it’s waiting to see what will be gazetted.
- Additional reporting AFP
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Tobacco industry roleplayers aren't ready to smoke the peace pipe with government just yet. The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association took government to court over the ban and says it’s waiting to see what will be gazetted after the tobacco ban was lifted last night. pic.twitter.com/kldXzvyGai— eNCA (@eNCA) August 16, 2020