South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday re-imposed a night curfew and suspended alcohol sales in the country as coronavirus infections spiked and the health system risked being overwhelmed.
Coronavirus infection numbers had in recent days skyrocketed with at least 12,000 infections recorded daily, translating to around 500 infections every hour, severely straining health care resources.
South Africa is the worst-affected country on the continent with 276,242 registered cases including 4,079 deaths as of Sunday.
“As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.
“We have therefore decided that in order to conserve hospital capacity, the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa’s first booze ban, implemented in March was lifted on June 1.
But on Sunday Ramaphosa rescinded the move, saying “there is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence as well as trauma that is alcohol-induced.”
He also ordered a curfew from 9pm (1900GMT) until 4am (0200GMT) starting Monday.
Ramaphosa also outlawed family and social visits which have been blamed for helping the virus spread.