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Lobby group calls for tougher restrictions on festive season booze sales

Saapa, which is comprised of about 20 civil rights groups, held a press briefing on Wednesday calling for tighter measures around alcohol consumption to be put in place.

Distributors prepare to send out beer after the ban on alcohol sales was lifted with the country moving to lockdown level 2 on 18 August 2020. Picture: Veronica Mokhoali/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) in South Africa on Wednesday called on government to institute tougher restrictions on the hours of trade for alcohol during the festive season.

The organisation, which is comprised of about 20 civil rights groups, held a press briefing calling for tighter measures around alcohol consumption to be put in place.

ALSO READ: NCCC recommends 10 pm curfew & restricted alcohol sales - report

The calls come amid concerns of an increase in COVID-19 infections and alcohol consumption in hotspots.

In the Eastern and Western Cape, there were already reports of doctors taking strain during the surge in infections.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has added its voice to the call.

The director of SAMRC’s alcohol, tobacco, and other drug research unit, Charles Parry, said that other measures during the festive season should be taken in an attempt to combat the rising COVID-19 infections.

“I think it’s a move in the right direction, but it should be done at a national level as well. I think we need to be looking at whether we should be allowing special promotions and price discounts on alcohol at this time,” Parry said.

“We actually have a problem with heavy drinking in this country. We are the sixth-highest nation in the world in terms of the amount of absolute alcohol drunk per drink per day. And that’s the problem that’s putting our hospitals under pressure and a driver of a lot of COVID risks that we are seeing now,” she added.

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