Booze ban, other curbs may be lifted as third wave recedes


Government said the third wave of coronavirus infections has passed its peak, a development that could give it scope to ease a ban on alcohol sales and other restrictions.

The country recored 14 858 new cases in the past 24 hours, down from 16 240 the day before, indicating the pandemic was “on a downward trend”, acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Friday. There were 4 998 new cases in Gauteng, the epicentre of the latest outbreak, down from a peak of more than 16 000, she said.

The National Coronavirus Command Council is due to meet on 25 July to discuss whether to review prevailing curbs, including bans on alcohol sales and leisure travel in and out of Gauteng, and a nighttime curfew. President Cyril Ramaphosa will likely communicate any changes in a televised address that night.

Ramaphosa may also unveil a package aimed at helping businesses and individuals affected by a week of riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. At least 337 people died in the unrest and thousands of businesses were looted.

Proposals tabled in Nedlac, a bargaining forum that includes the government, labour unions and business groups, include the reintroduction of a temporary welfare grant for those who don’t qualify for other aid. Other suggestions include tax relief and loan guarantees for businesses affected by the unrest.

Destroyed

About 120 private pharmacies were destroyed during the protests, and some 47 500 Covid-19 vaccine doses were lost, interrupting the government’s inoculation programme.

The problems were being addressed and vaccinations had picked up, with more than 250 000 shots being issued daily, Kubayi said.  — Reported by S’thembile Cele, (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP



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