Despite a growing number of calls for government to lift the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes as part of the plan to open the economy, health workers union Nehawu is advising government not to bow to pressure.
South African breweries is among the latest companies to call for the lockdown regulations to be eased, saying if this is not done, the firm may have to discard 130 million litres of beer.
However, Nehawu said easing regulations governing the ban on the sale and transportation of alcohol may add unnecessary pressure to South Africa’s health system as the country prepares for a peak in COVID-19 infections.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said health workers had to deal with less casualty patients since the ban on the sale of alcohol.
Xaba said given that COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, lifting the ban on the sale of cigarettes would not assist the health sector.
He said they were calling on government to uphold the ban on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol until the country was cleared of the virus or a cure is found.
“We need to ensure that we protect our people so they should not bow down to pressure in the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.”
Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter raised concerns this week that the continued ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes is costing the country millions in revenue while creating fertile ground for the illicit trade of these products to thrive.