Over 1400 bar and nightclub owners in Harare have been arrested for breaking COVID-19 lockdown laws. In Zimbabwe lockdown laws prohibit bars, nightclubs, beer halls and shebeens from operating. Additionally the country institutes a 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM curfew and has placed limits on number of people at public gatherings as part of the anti-COVID-19 measures.
According to the police, cases of people violating the curfew and widespread public alcohol use in shopping centers specifically in urban areas are on the rise.
Reducing alcohol availability – such as done by Zimbabwe – is advised by the World Health Organization (WHO). There are several reasons why the WHO recommends limiting alcohol availability during the ongoing pandemic. These include:
- Alcohol weakens the immune system.
- Alcohol is a risk factor for many non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which increase the risk of more severe disease progression and death from COVID-19.
- Alcohol related diseases, injuries and accidents burden healthcare and emergency services which are over-burdened due to the ongoing pandemic.
Additionally alcohol use is usually conducted in social settings which leads to reduced adherence to COVID-19 preventive measures such as mask use and physical distancing. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that among young adults with heavy alcohol use, adherence to public policies like stay-at-home orders is suboptimal, declines over time, and is associated with alcohol use events.
Authorities in Zimbabwe have warned that “strong action” will be taken against those who violate COVID-19 lockdown laws, risking people’s lives. The police have reportedly deployed more officers to ensure the compliance with lockdown laws in the country.
Those found operating shebeens or selling liquor whilst closed inside bars, nightclubs and other premises will be dealt with,” said Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, national police spokesperson, as per The Herald.Paul Nyathi, Assistant Commissioner, National Police