As South Africa starts to see the smallest of lights at the end of an extremely long tunnel, Zweli Mkhize has stated that there will be no rush to start lifting restrictions at the slightest hint of progress: Daily COVID-19 cases fell to a one-month low on Monday, prompting hopes that the alcohol ban could soon be relaxed.
The State of Disaster laws are set to be renewed on 15 February – and this is likely to be the earliest date on which the alcohol ban could be repealed. However, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stated last week that any changes to liquor regulations can only take place ‘once deaths and hospitalisations are dramatically reduced’.
Adjusted restrictions won’t be happening on the health minister’s watch any time soon, though. Mkhize visited various healthcare centres in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday, to assess the situation. There are more active cases in KZN than anywhere else in SA, and interventions have been put into place to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed with demand.
It was on these rounds that Zweli Mkhize delivered a sobering update for the drinkers of South Africa. He stated that the alcohol ban has brought ‘huge relief’ to trauma wards and over-populated medical facilities across the nation, and revealed he’s hopeful this period of prohibition will continue ‘for a while’.
“At this point, we are able to focus on the one crisis that the whole country is facing. There is actually a huge relief that has come from the suspension of the sale of alcohol because most of those trauma cases are linked to irresponsible consumption of alcohol, irresponsible behaviour based on the consumption of alcohol.”
“Hopefully, that’s going to continue for a while”
Then we need to get this space to be able to manage people who are under the pressure of COVID-19, so we will then continue to monitor the situation and see when there would be the need to change the restrictions that have been put in place.”