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If government listened to its Covid-19 advisers you could buy booze until Saturday and not need vaccine passport soon

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It would be possible to buy alcohol at off-site premises on Saturdays under the new lockdown level 2 regulations if Health Minister Joe Phaahla had listened to the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla File picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)

It would be possible to buy alcohol at off-site premises on Saturdays under the new lockdown level 2 regulations if Health Minister Joe Phaahla had listened to the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

Cape Town – It would be possible to buy alcohol at off-site premises on Saturdays under the new lockdown level 2 regulations if Health Minister Joe Phaahla had listened to the advice of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC).

The MAC also believes the use of vaccine passports as ’’suitable incentives warrants careful, principled and scientifically informed consideration’’, regarding it as premature.

The committee recommended to Phaahla that in moving from Adjusted Alert Level 3 to Adjusted Level 2 from September 12, the ’’changes could include relaxing the current restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages for off-site consumption, by returning to the usual hours of sale in terms of the Liquor Act (i.e. allowing sale from Mondays to Saturdays)’’.

In advocating for returning to the usual hours, the MAC didn’t believe it made much sense to extend off-site alcohol sales by only one day.

’’Although the link between alcohol use and trauma case load is well established, increasing the number of days on which alcoholic beverage sales for off-site consumption by only one day is difficult to justify, and so a return to normal selling hours is preferable,’’ the MAC stated.

On the contentious issue of vaccine passports – on which clarity would be provided soon, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday – the MAC recommended: ’’Given that three-quarters of adults are yet to be vaccinated, linking an increase in the capacity limits of venues by restricting access only to those already vaccinated is not justified at this time; nor is there unequivocal evidence for the safety of that approach or for its impact on vaccine acceptance.

’’Nonetheless, the future use of suitable incentives warrants careful, principled and scientifically informed consideration.’’

Epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes has questioned the government’s motives when it comes to alcohol and cigarette bans, believing it is more a case of suddenly trying to address long-standing health issues they have ignored. She said a pandemic was not the right time to try to address these issues.

’’I think what’s been with the happening with the alcohol ban is they are waking up to how bad the alcohol abuse is and they now want to control alcohol abuse within a pandemic; they are losing focus.

’’I’m not saying that alcohol doesn’t contribute to a huge number of what we call preventable trauma cases, etcetera, but it’s another case of too little, too late. Now they wake up in the middle of a pandemic and they want to control alcohol abuse.

’’It’s never a good idea when you work with a large number of the population to try and address five ideas at the same time, you lose control of that.’’

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