The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) in Lesotho, has lauded the government for including alcohol trading restrictions as part of health measures to limit the impact of the third wave of the COVID-19 ravaging the region.
July 7, 2021
2 min read
Alcohol consumption compromises health protocols - SAAPA
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SAAPA acknowledges that the restrictions place further hardships on those who work in the retail and hospitality industries.
The body says these people have been struggling to recover from the economic impact of the pandemic since its inception in 2020.
“The reality, however is that alcohol consumption compromises safety health protocols. Removal of face masks, inability to keep social distance when drinking, not sanitising or regular washing of hands are high risk factors contributing to the spread of the virus,” SAAPA says.
Every citizen in southern African countries, according to SAAPA has had a family member, friend or colleague who has been infected or died from COVID-19 related complications.
Therefore, the association appeals to all citizens of Lesotho to work hand in hand with the government in trying to contain the spread of the contagious virus.
The already fragile health infrastructure in the country, SAAPA says needs to be able to manage and support the affected citizens.
In the recent past, restricting alcohol trading has proven to be effective in the fight against the spread of the pandemic.
Equally, SAAPA has urged the government to have zero tolerance in respect of its officials who take bribes and thereby fail to enforce emergency regulations.
The body contends that most traders continue to trade openly and under the counter because they have some local officials in their pockets, adding that no action is being taken against them for abrogating the restrictions.
SAAPA strongly recommends that the government should revoke or indefinitely suspend licenses of traders who continue to trade beyond restrictions.
It further suggests that the government should look at relief packages to ease the economic strain on all citizens, including alcohol traders.
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The crisis, the body says highlights the urgent need to differently regulate alcohol trading, pricing and marketing.
"Even though about 30 percent of citizens drink alcohol in Lesotho, binge drinking amongst those who drink, particularly young people is over 70 percent," SAAPA also says.
Government, traders and citizens, according to the outfit have to brave the wave of the virus and look at how to deal with alcohol retail in the future so as to avoid bans and protect citizens from alcohol related harm.
It furthers recommends that alcohol marketing should be limited to the points of sale.
“In addition, the price of alcohol is too cheap and affordable even for children who do not earn money,” the body says, recommending that governments should consider increasing the price of alcohol products as a counter measure to affordability.