Cape Town, South Africa (CNN)While liquor sales in many countries have been deemed essential during these days of social isolation, South Africa has taken the opposite approach.
Alcohol ban has South African distilleries pivoting to a new product
The country has been on lockdown since March 26, in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19, like many other places. But the rules are among some of the strictest in the world - you may only leave your home if you provide an essential service, or need to procure essential goods like food or medicine. On top of that, South Africa has banned the sale of cigarettes and alcohol, joining a short list of only three other countries: Thailand, Greenland, and parts of Mexico.
According to the South African government, the decision to temporarily ban alcohol was influenced by concerns such as compromising the immune system, lowering inhibitions when it comes to social distancing and personal hygiene, and the very serious charge of trying to reduce incidents of domestic violence.
Despite pleas from provincial liquor boards and other parties in South Africa to relax the ban on booze, the government is sticking to its original plan. For now, the lockdown will remain in place until at least the end of April.
It is a significant hit to the South African economy, especially the liquor industry, which bears the brunt of these regulations. In 2018, a "Research and Markets" report valued the country's liquor industry to be worth more than $583 million. The biggest market is the domestic one, and local producers like Inverroche Gin are already feeling the pinch.