South Africa will lift its coronavirus-linked ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco products this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday, announcing the removal of “nearly all restrictions” on economic activities.
AFP had reported that the virus-related ban on the purchase of booze and cigarettes has been controversial, and no other country has introduced both measures together.
It came into effect when South Africa went into a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27 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 booze-related injuries.
Tobacco products were restricted because of the health impacts of smoking as well as the risk of contamination between people sharing cigarettes.
While tobacco sales have been forbidden since the start of lockdown, alcohol purchases were tentatively re-authorised in June and banned again when cases spiked the following month.