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Alcohol bans harm the economy

Booze ban will aggravate unemployment

Stock image.
Stock image.
Image: 123rf/Jakub Godja

Covid-19 has had a negative effect in SA with job losses skyrocketing. A new Covid-19 variant, B.1.1.529 (Omicron), has emerged in SA and this poses a threat to the economy. As the festive season approaches people are gearing up to spend time with their loved ones.

The restriction of movement during the festive season would be welcomed and this would be a great opportunity to encourage people to get vaccinated. With the fourth wave looming it would be important to get people vaccinated rather than banning alcohol.

The alcohol bans have proven to be effective in limiting hospital cases but the frustrations of the bans spilled over during the July unrest. Some people believe the unrest was mainly about the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma. In fact, not all the looters care about Umsholozi, particularly in Gauteng. 

Hunger and the frustration over the alcohol ban played a huge role in the unrest. If another alcohol ban comes into effect, the danger is that we could see bottle stores being looted again.

The announcement of a ban could lead to panic buying and this could spread the virus quickly. Alcohol is not the problem, the government needs to limit movement and restrict large social gatherings. This has proven to be effective in reducing the number of infections.

Unemployment in SA stands at 34.4% with 46.3% of the unemployed aged between 15 and 34. The alcohol industry is a large contributor to our economy and shutting bottle stores could lead to more job losses.

The government has every right to take precautionary measures that help decrease the spread of Covid-19. That being said, it also has the responsibility to ensure that the few jobs left are saved. The alcohol ban will only cause more harm.

Doctor Mahlaule, by email

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