A decision to reimpose a ban on the sale of alcohol has angered many consumers in South Africa. Health experts say the move could free up much-needed hospital beds.
South Africa's president on Sunday reimposed a ban on alcohol sales, which had only been lifted on June 1. In a letter to the nation, Cyril Ramaphosa also announced the return of a national curfew.
"We are taking these measures fully aware that they impose unwelcome restrictions on people's lives. They are, however, necessary to see us through the peak of the disease," Ramaphosa said.
"There is no way that we can avoid the coronavirus storm. But we can limit the damage that it can cause to our lives."
Consumers on Monday took to social media to vent their anger, within hours of Ramaphosa's address, with hashtags like #AlcoholHasFallen.
Many social media users said they would buy bootleg alcohol or brew their own liquor. Others, like employees working for bars and liquor stores, sell
"For people like us, the bartenders, what can we do for us to live? That's all I want to know," Soweto resident Karabo Lebelo told the Reuters news agency.
However, the country's health minister, Zweli Mkhize, said officials wanted to avoid a situation where a COVID-19 patient would arrive at a hospital with no beds left because of avoidable alcohol-related ailments.
Sharp spike in cases
The president also announced stricter controls to enforce the wearing of face masks, but concerns remain that this is insufficient to stem the surge in infections.
"Many here fear this might not be enough to weather the storm of coronavirus," reported DW's Adrian Kriesch. "There is still a massive lack of intensive care units, testing kits, and a shortage of about 12,000 healthcare workers."
South Africa is facing a rapid increase in coronavirus cases after loosening what had been one of the world's strictest lockdowns.
South Africa is now recording more than 12,000 new coronavirus cases a day -- the fourth-largest daily increase worldwide. Deaths from COVID-19 rose by a quarter in the past week to over 4,000, official data show.
The South African figure accounts for over 40% of all the reported coronavirus cases in Africa.