President Cyril Ramaphosa has reintroduced a ban on the sale and distribution of alcohol, as the country approaches the 300 000 mark for cases of Covid-19.
Millions of South Africans will be angry with Ramaphosa, who appeared very frustrated as he announced the country would remain on alert Level 3, but with stricter regulation and enforcement.
But it is not the president we should condemn. Over the past month, since the sale of alcohol was reinstated and restaurants reopened, many South Africans continued life like the global pandemic was over.
Many people organised parties, braais, dinners and social gatherings, while this was still outlawed by the lockdown regulations.
To a degree, it is understandable that people have the need to socialise and carry on as if things are “normal”. But the hard truth is things are not.
As a country, South Africa has not yet reached our peak in infections. Although the Western Cape may seem to be over the worst, a prolonged peak seems to be the consensus for the province.
Gauteng and the Eastern Cape are spiking, with KwaZulu-Natal showing a growing increase in cases and deaths.
The government has limited levers to pull to curb the coronavirus from spreading. Ramaphosa took the right decision not to move the country back to Level 4 or 5; this would have been devastating for the economy and education.
So, what remained was for the president to be stricter about Level 3 regulations, including the alcohol ban. It is a pity that the majority of people should be punished for the sins of a minority, but Ramaphosa cannot be faulted for reinstating the ban after several reports of “after tears” gatherings, large funerals and parties.
It would be prudent of South Africans to remember that the pandemic is far from over. We have no idea when we will reach our peak and projections still show up to 40 000 deaths by the end of the year.
The only way to avoid this is by self-regulation; wear your cloth mask, wash your hands and keep a physical distance.
The one piece of good news from Ramaphosa’s Sunday-evening address was the opening of parks for exercise (not gatherings).
Thousands of walkers and runners, young and old, will rejoice at the news that they can now access their greenbelts. – Editor