Explained: How the government will decide to allow alcohol sales again

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Photo: iStock/Gallo Images
Photo: iStock/Gallo Images

The country will be under Level 4 lockdown from 1 May, but this does not mean that you can celebrate with your favourite drink on that date.

Alcohol sales will still be banned.

According to the proposed plan, if the lockdown is eased to Level 3, the sale of alcohol will be permitted at retail outlets at limited hours, but no consumption on-premises - drinking in restaurants, pubs and clubs - will be allowed.

So, if you want to (legally) buy liquor again, the lockdown will have to reach Level 3.

When is that going to happen?

Well, there is no set time.

On Saturday, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said it would depend on the "state of readiness".

"We'll be looking at data on a weekly basis. If there is no dramatic change in the data, there will be no change [in the level of the lockdown]."

What data are they looking at?

According to Dlamini-Zuma's presentation, they considered the following to determine what the alert level would be:

  • Rate at which the proportion of the population tested is increasing (higher is better).
  • Rate at which the proportion of positive tests is increasing (lower is better).
  • Rate of increase in fixed and makeshift hospital beds in both public and private sectors per 1 000 population (higher is better).
  • Rate at which the proportion of hospital beds being utilised for Covid-19 is increasing (lower is better).
  • All four measures will change over time and will influence the level at which the country, a province or district will be classified.

    Will alcohol definitely be allowed if the lockdown level changes?

    No, not necessarily.

    Firstly, we can go back to Level 5 from Level 4. If the situation regarding infections worsens, the lockdown can return to Level 5 in which case alcohol sales will definitively be a no-no.

    Furthermore, the lists of goods and services that will be allowed at each stage are still proposals and thus subject to change after consultations with various role players.

    And then, police minister Bheki Cele, who is also a teetotaller, has said if it was up to him, the sale of alcohol would remain verboten, even after the lockdown has ended.

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