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Has South Africa’s Alcohol Restrictions Changed Behaviour?

South Africa is slowly emerging from one of the world’s strictest Covid-19 lockdowns. As the threat of the pandemic loomed in March its government sealed national borders, restricted public transport use and — in a particularly controversial move — banned the sale of alcohol for several weeks. Government officials believe the drinking restrictions significantly reduced pressure on the country’s hospitals and have hailed the results as a policy success. The restrictions have since been lifted once again. The South African government says trauma hospital admissions and visits dropped by around 60% during the initial ban. Admissions rose during the period between the two bans. A survey from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) released in June found that 30% of respondents reported drinking less alcohol during lockdowns, while 11% reported drinking more. The survey had 11,000 respondents across nine countries. Respondents from Australia, South Africa, Mexico, France, United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Japan and New Zealand took part in the research.