President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a total ban on the sale of alcohol for the fourth time since SA started its Covid-19 lockdown at the end of March last year.
In his address to the nation on Sunday night, Ramaphosa reiterated the same reasons as the previous bans - to prevent much-needed hospital beds from being filled up by people with alcohol-related injuries.
This time, with SA entering the peak of the third wave of infections, with 15 036 people infected in the last 24 hours, and 122 new deaths, Ramaphosa said the country would be placed under Level 4 lockdown from Monday until 11 July.
As part of the Level 4 restrictions, the sale of alcohol for both onsite and offsite consumption has been banned for the period.
"Our Ministerial Advisory Committee has advised that the limited restrictions previously imposed were not that effective and that a prohibition will ease the pressure that is placed on hospital services by alcohol-related emergency incidents," Ramaphosa said.
The first ban was lifted in June, but a second followed a month later. When the second wave hit – a third ban was imposed at the end of December last year.
In response, large alcohol groups had scrapped investments. SA Breweries (SAB) cancelled capital investments worth R5 billion last year, but recently said it would now invest R2 billion. Fellow beer maker Heineken cancelled R6 billion in investments - but confirmed recently that it is now in talks about a possible takeover of Distell.
The industry said before Ramaphosa's address earlier on Sunday that ban will be disastrous consequences for small businesses.
"Another ban will offer a severe blow to thousands of small businesses still trying to get back on their feet from the previous bans, resulting in even more job losses, business closures and loss in revenue for the national fiscus," the Beer Association of SA (BASA), which represents the Craft Brewers Association, Heineken and SAB said in a statement.