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Industry players mum on reports of lifting of tobacco, alcohol sale bans

The reports cited unnamed sources and suggested South Africa could move to level 2 of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Image:123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - There are reports suggesting that government could this week announce a relaxation of lockdown restrictions, including lifting the bans on alcohol and tobacco sales.

According to News24 and TimesLIVE, the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet were advised to do so.

The reports cited unnamed sources and suggested that South Africa could move to level 2 of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Cigarette sales were banned since the nationwide lockdown was introduced at the end of March. Alcohol sales were also banned for most of the lockdown.

A brief reopening of alcohol sales ended when it was blamed for a rise in trauma cases at hospitals where all resources were needed to combat COVID-19.

The liquor, tobacco, and restaurant industries have called for the sales and distribution bans to be lifted, with the matters being argued in court and the public domain.

Government said that the prohibitions were aimed at saving lives, even though it placed a massive burden on the economy and in turn threatened jobs.

Eyewitness News reached out to various industry players about the latest reports on the lifting of the bans, but most were reluctant to comment.

Tobacco Transformation Alliance chairperson Shadrack Sibisi said that they had not yet been informed.

“It means the workers who are the most vulnerable, their dignity will be restored as they would be earning something,” Sibisi said.

Last week, British American Tobacco South Africa took government to court arguing the tobacco sales ban infringed on rights and harmed the economy through a loss of tax revenue.

Judgment was reserved in the matter.

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