Alcohol sales restriction won't help reduce pressure on hospitals - researcher

Liquor sales hours have been cut as coronavirus infections continue to rise. This has been done to free up bed space in medical facilities as coronavirus hospitalisations increase.

A customer buys alcohol at a liquor shop in Melville, Johannesburg, on 18 August 2020. South Africa moved into level two of a five-tier lockdown on 18 August 2020, to continue efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Under level two, liquor and tobacco sales will resume. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN - A medical researcher believes that the newly imposed curbs on alcohol sales did not go far enough to alleviate pressure on the health system.

Liquor sales hours have been cut as coronavirus infections continue to rise. This has been done to free up bed space in medical facilities as coronavirus hospitalisations increase.

But with numbers across the country increasing, Charles Parry of the South African Medical Research Council believed that the restrictions were unlikely to have a massive effect.

“The closure of bars and restaurants at 9pm will help somewhat to reducing the likelihood of community transmission of the virus. If your goal is to reduce pressure on hospitals by reducing alcohol-related trauma, I think it's probably too little, too late, especially if you're talking about Gauteng province,” he said.

He added that the pressure on hospitals may still increase.

“The data suggests that the kind of measures that instituted will not have a significant impact on reducing trauma, a partial ban like the Monday to Thursday restrictions, people will buy Monday to Thursday obviously but it'll stop some impulsive buying over the weekend. It won't bring down the pressure on hospitals,” Parry said.

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