Botswana bans sale of alcohol amid COVID-19

The Government of Botswana says alcohol has made it difficult for it to enforce citizens’ adherence to the country’s COVID-19 safety protocols

The sale of alcohol and consumption of liquor has been banned in Botswana in response to the spread of the coronavirus disease.

A notice issued in the government gazette said the suspension would take effect until further notice. All shops selling hard spirits will remain closed.

The Southern African nation’s COVID-19 caseload has risen to over 800 this week and there have been two deaths.

Despite the low overall number of infections and deaths, the government is not taking anything for granted.

Last week, a strict lockdown was reinforced for two weeks in the capital, Gaborone, in an all-out effort to contain the spread.

Non-adherence to protocols

A notice from the government said it had decided to ban alcohol because of blatant disregard for the COVID-19 protocols.

“Notice is hereby given that His Excellency the President, acting in accordance with Regulation 30G of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations 2020, has with immediate effect suspended all liquor licences issued in terms of the Liquor Act,” the notice said.

In the statement, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said alcohol had “negative effects” on adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

“The suspension of the sale of alcohol is based on evidence that the consumption of alcohol increases the risks posed by COVID-19,” the president said.

The statement said that traditional beers, which are brewed and consumed in many rural households in Botswana, are also banned.

Action over warnings 

The ban on alcohol fulfils a warning by President Masisi. The COVID-19 restrictions were eased in June, but he warned then that they would be imposed again if citizens behaved irresponsibly.

At that time, Masisi relaxed the regulations on sale and consumption of alcohol in a controlled manner, one of a raft of measures seeking to revive Botswana’s economy.

However, several Batswana ignored social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols after the easing of restrictions.

As such, the government decided to ban the sale of alcohol once again and to close all bars, as was the case during the lockdown in the first half of the year.

E A Alanore

* Asaase Radio 99.5 – Tune in or log on to broadcasts online.

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