Wednesday, April 22, 2020

South Africa coronavirus lockdown: Is the alcohol ban working?

Police have arrested people caught drinking in public.

The ban on the sale and transportation of alcohol during the coronavirus lockdown in South Africa has emptied hospital beds, ruined businesses, provoked violence and political disputes, and has led to a surge of interest in pineapples, writes the BBC's Andrew Harding from Johannesburg.

The idea was simple.

Ban all booze, and you'll prevent drunken fights, reduce domestic violence, stop drunk driving, and eliminate the weekend binge-drinking so prevalent across South Africa. Police, medics and analysts estimate - conservatively - that alcohol is involved in, or responsible for, at least 40% of all emergency hospital admissions.

In normal times some 34,000 trauma cases arrive at emergency departments in South Africa every week.

But since the nationwide lockdown came into force last month to prevent the spread of coronavirus, that figure has plummeted, dramatically, by roughly two thirds, to about 12,000 admissions.

"It's a significant impact," said Professor Charles Parry, with some understatement.  Read more >>