Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Monday deplored the renewed alcohol ban imposed by the national government as a “blunt instrument” in the fight against Covid-19.
Winde said the after June 1, when the government lifted the initial alcohol ban imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was an immediate increase in the number of murders recorded in the province and a surge in admission to the trauma wards of hospitals because of injuries linked to alcohol abuse.
“The link between alcohol and violence is well established and a ban on alcohol sales may result in a reduction in incidents of murder, gender-based violence and trauma events such as road accidents, and assaults, and for this reason can have an immediate impact on hospital capacity,” he said.
“However, this is a blunt mechanism that will negatively impact the Western Cape economy and the agri-processing sector and will result in job losses across the province. It will also push the sale of alcohol ‘underground’, with less control over registered sales by our liquor authority. ”
Winde said this meant that the ban was a short term relief measure but the problem would remain and a long-term ban was not feasible.
He said the provincial government had initiated programmes to this effect and would like it to be extended to the rest of the country.
“I will be raising this proposal with the president during our next engagement.”
Ramaphosa reintroduced the ban on alcohol sales on Sunday night, with immediate effect, after the number of Covid-19 infections in the country exceeded 276,000.
Winde said as it combated the spike in infections, the government needed to remain mindful of the economic impact of restrictions on an economy in recession,
“The reality is that every single province in South Africa is now also facing a catastrophic unemployment pandemic. Millions of people are going to lose their jobs, if they haven’t already. The consequences of this jobs crisis are severe. It is causing a humanitarian crisis that will impact our poorest and most vulnerable residents. This has very real health consequence and it will also cost lives.”
In this vein, he said, he was also deeply concerned about the impact of the effective ban of all leisure tourism accommodation as promulgated on Sunday.
“The tourism sector, which employs over 200,000 people in the Western Cape (direct and indirect) has been dealt a severe blow, without proper scientific evidence or reasoning to support it being excluded,” he said.
“Leisure tourism accommodation that can open safely, following proper safety protocols, should be allowed to do so. We need to view the tourism sector as a partner in our Covid-19 pandemic, and work with them to adapt to this new normal.”
Winde, who has Covid-19, said the failure to do this would see the tourism sector in the Western Cape shed jobs.
“I will be raising this concern directly with the president as a matter of urgency, and the Western Cape Government will continue to push for the safe re-opening of the tourism sector.”