A little over a month after South Africans surged liquor outlets in song and dance, President Cyril Ramaphosa served South Africans with an alcohol ban with immediate effect from 12 July

The alcohol re-banning comes after reported increases in alcohol-related medical emergencies diverting much-needed resources from the plight against COVID-19.

“The resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure on trauma units –accidents, and other forms of trauma,” said Ramaphosa in his address last night.

Related: Watch President Ramaphosa’s entire speech 

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What does ‘effective immediately’ mean?

When South Africa initially went under lockdown, with strict restrictions on movement and commerce, the President announced an embargo on the sale of alcohol and other goods, including cigarettes, days before liquor outlets shut their doors.

This time, the President has cut South African’s off without notice sending shockwaves across the country and has given no indication of when alcohol sales can resume again.

While there has been confusion over what the president meant by “immediate effect”, the closed doors of liquor shops and the taped off aisles explain that the president meant just that; liquor will no longer be on sale.

Related: Alcohol sales suspended, 9pm curfew, no family visits: SA faces Covid-19 storm

No more alcohol and drunkenness.
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What the alcohol ban has to do with COVID-19?

South Africa is no doubt a drinking nation, ranking high on the WHOs (World Health Organisation) list of heavy drinkers. While alcohol producers and government have called for South Africans to drink responsibly and continue to observe lockdown regulations, the department of health has indicated that alcohol-related medical emergencies have soared in the last six weeks.

This is in stark contrast to an estimation made by The Medical Research Council’s Professor Charles Parry that an eight-week alcohol ban could free up space for 12 900 COVID-19 patients in ICU by saving on the cost of treating up to 50 000 alcohol-related trauma cases.

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What this means for you?

While the country remains on Level 3 with more businesses in the entertainment, hospitality and personal care industry opening up, many restrictions that were initially placed on South Africans have been lifted. However, alcohol will not be available for sale in stores or restaurants.

We are all still encouraged to stay home and practice social distancing. In the meantime try one (or all) of these delicious non-alcoholic cocktails at your next online party.