- President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of of lockdown Level 3 resulted in the reinstatement of the alcohol sales ban.
- The move was an urgent attempt to contain the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases.
- The decision has led to a decrease in trauma cases in hospitals by nearly 50%, but restaurant owners are concerned that their businesses will not survive.
As South Africa continues to experience a second wave of Covid-19 infections, frontline workers are under immense pressure and several hospitals across the country are packed to capacity.
On 28 December, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced an urgent move to lockdown Level 3.
A stricter curfew was imposed and the sale of alcohol was prohibited until 15 January.
The restrictions on the sale of alcohol were instituted to ensure that hospital beds were available for Covid-19 patients and are not filled with alcohol-related trauma cases.
"According to the data we have, with every relaxation of the restrictions on the sale of alcohol, the number of trauma cases reporting at our hospitals has increased," said Ramaphosa.
During a digital conference on Tuesday, the head of the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr Keith Cloete, said there had been a "significant" decline in trauma cases since the alcohol ban was reinstated.
"An average decrease of 47%, [an] almost 50% reduction, week on week. And then the maximum was almost 60% if you take Boxing Day to New Year's Day [into account]," he said.
However, the restaurant industry is feeling the pinch.
Sindile Kama, owner of 50 on Gugs in Cape Town, told News24 that although he understood why the ban was there, he wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to sustain his business.
"You can see here, it's empty... that's the effect of the announcement," he said.
Kama hopes business will eventually pick up and is taking things day by day.
"You must remember that I have employed people who are feeding their families... I don't know how much longer I can keep the staff complement."
Another concerned restaurant owner is Erna Judd from Judd's Local.
Judd and her team are now brainstorming new ideas to keep their clientele engaged and interested.
"Basically, 60% of our turnover is lost, so we have to come up with very inventive ideas on how to make up a loss of 60% of income," she said.
The bar and eatery is currently experimenting with deconstructed iced coffees and virgin cocktails as a way of diversifying its offering.
Executive chef at Judd's Local, Morné Botha, said restricting the sale of alcohol at restaurants was "unfair".
"You've got other people who are not adhering to the rules and regulations," he said.
According to Botha, being clean and organised is what is expected of their industry. Now they are being "victimised".
However, Kama from 50 on Gugs said that although restaurants offered a more controlled environment for people to drink, it was difficult to control patrons once their masks were off.
"We do sanitise. We do take the temperature, but once people come in, they take the mask off and they start sitting and talking. And then it becomes neither here nor there if it is controlled or not."
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