Botswana has lifted their temporary alcohol sales ban amidst rising COVID-19 deaths. This is despite the country’s COVID-19 death toll reaching a total of 300. Alcohol will now be available on all weekdays.
The government lifted the alcohol sales ban out of misplaced priorities. Instead of prioritizing public health during the ongoing global pandemic, the government prioritized private profits of the alcohol industry.
The President Mokgweetsi Masisi acknowledged that alcohol-centric environments and occassions worsen the adherence to health protocols. Nevertheless, he cited the alcohol industry argument of an impact on the economy due to decreasing alcohol sales.
Meanwhile the COVID-19 curfew will continue from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM daily, till March 31, 2021.
Lifting of the temporary alcohol sales ban – while more people die from COVID-19 – is good news only for the alcohol industry. The Botswana Alcohol Industry Association “welcomed” the decision. However, it is bad news for the health and safety of citizens in Botswana. As a groundbreaking new report recently illustrated, there is a lethal interaction between alcohol and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key facts covered in the report include:
- Alcohol amplifies the impact of COVID-19 at both individual and societal levels.
- Harm caused by alcohol products impede effective responses to the pandemic by pushing healthcare systems to the brink.
- Big Alcohol has been using the pandemic to push their de-regulation agenda to weaken every alcohol policy possible.
Key recommendations from the report include:
- Maintain and improve alcohol policy measures;
- Limit alcohol availability and affordability and make use of evidence-based alcohol pricing policies;
- Ensure effective public health messaging on alcohol and COVID-19 from health authorities;
- Make clinical and treatment provisions for people experiencing all types of alcohol-related problems; and
- Increase access to mental health services, including online services.
Since early on in the pandemic the World Health Organization (WHO) is advising governments to reduce alcohol availability in order to bolster COVID-19 response measures.