07 August 2020

Lockdown and the battle of the booze

When the lockdown for Covid19 started back in March, it was at Level 5, and the sale of alcoholic liquor was forbidden. That made sense at the time, because the idea was that only essentials, like food, could be sold, and alcoholic liquor was not deemed essential.

Then it dropped to Level 4, and then to Level 3, and liquor could be sold again. But it was stopped again at Level 3, but the rationale was somewhat different, since by that time a lot of other non-essentials could be sold. The problem was that when liquor was sold again, there was more domestic violence, more drunken driving, and more fights generally, and this was filling up the hospitals which needed the beds for the expected inrush of people infected with Covid19.

We have had some booze in the house for years, and once we had finished the Chateau de Cardboard we had bought to drink with our dinner once or twice a week, I went to make an inventory of what we have. Here it is:
A sip of Jerepigo. Brandy for a Christmas cake (if we can afford the other ingredients), a couple of bottles of table wine and some Marula mampoer.  

And looking at that, I have a suggestion for the government for a compromise solution which should make a lot more people more happy. 

Keep the ban on hard liquor sales, but allow the sale of wine and beer, and limit them to one bottle of wine or one six-pack of beer per purchase. . 

That should give the wine industry and its employees a chance to recover while not filling the hospitals too rapidly with non-Covid patients. 

And when we're allowed to go back to church, we'll need that sip of Jerepigo for communion. 



Graham Downs said...

"That made sense at the time, because the idea was that only essentials, like food, could be sold, and alcoholic liquor was not deemed essential."

See, I think that's the problem. At the time, I wasn't aware of ANY other country in the world that was restricting what products could be sold, even during their hardest of hard lockdowns. They were restricting where their people could go, yes, and restricting what types of shops could be open, but any shops that WERE open were allowed to sell anything they normally sold.

So, if it made sense for Pick 'n Pay to stay open because they sold essential foodstuffs, and your local Pick 'n Pay happened to ALSO sell wrapping paper, then you could still buy a roll of wrapping paper there, because why not? (We, of course, said, "Absolutely not. Pick 'n Pay should keep their wrapping paper shelf locked up tight!")

And while other countries have always allowed unfettered ecommerce, we said from the beginning that if you couldn't buy something in a physical store, you couldn't buy it online, either.

Which made absolutely zero sense to me. It still makes absolutely zero sense to me, because from what I've read about how other countries handled lockdown, the Prime Directive seems to have been to make sure that the average citizens' daily lives are impacted as little as humanly possible.

We, on the other hand, seem to have gone out of our way to inconvenience our people as much as possible. They must FEEL. They must know what it feels like to live under lockdown. To have their rights taking away. And we're not going to explain why we're doing it either, mwahahaha!

No, Steve. No. Fuck. This. Shit.

All my life, I've watched family, friends, and colleagues flee this country for greener pastures in Europe, America, and Australasia. And I've refused. I was born here, and I'll die here, is what I'd say. Crime isn't enough to make me want to leave. High taxes aren't either. Not even our rampant corruption. I want to stay and be part of the solution.

Now, for the first time in my life, I'm seriously considering leaving. Probably not to Europe, though. Or America, or Australasia. Maybe somewhere up Africa, because I'll always love this country... I dunno. Thankfully, I can't leave yet because borders are still closed, so maybe I'll have calmed down a bit by the time they open again.

No democratically elected government has the right to do what the South African government has done to her people during lockdown. For any reason. Ever. Full stop. :'(

Unknown said...

Whilst the inconvenience of the lockdown regulations is clear and the stupidity of some of them (like not being able to buy wrapping paper at Pick n' Pay)is clear, the attempt to control alcohol abuse was fully justified. Regardless of the pandemic we have a serious alcohol abuse problem and, whinges from the alcohol lobby notwithstanding, overall, because of that abuse, we probably lose more money annually than is made by the industry, but of course the loss is not paid by the industry but by us, the taxpayers who fund hospitals, the police, and pay the cost of loss of productivity in the workplace. Whilst it is recognised that prohibition is counter-productive, we need to go the Russian route that has reduced alcohol consumption by 43% through sensible controls, much as Steve suggested: shorter buying hours, limits on quantities (and heavier duties), etc. As for having our rights taken away, well no, being inconvenienced by not being able to buy some alcohol is not quite as serious as having to live in abject poverty all your life because of the way we run our society for the benefit of the rich and connected whi can always fly out to greener pastures if they want.

Graham Downs said...

I think not being able to buy wrapping paper (or underpants, or t-shirts, or open-toed shoes, or pre-cooked chicken at Woolworths, or a gaming console from Takealot) was way more than an inconvenience. Way, way, WAY more. And the fact that they eventually turned around and decided to allow those things again doesn't change the fact that they could ever in a million years think it'd be okay to ban people from buying those things. And I will never, ever forget, or forgive the ANC government for that.

Having said that, I must admit, I was a little more understanding of the ban on alcohol during Level 5. And I was deeply saddened and disgusted by what happened in the weeks that followed its unbanning. Clearly, as you say, South Africans have a major alcohol abuse problem, and we have no idea how to consume alcohol responsibly. Thankfully, that part didn't affect me too much, personally, because I'm not a big drinker.

But prohibition is not the answer. And controlling hours and quantities is only one step away from prohibition. I can think of other systems of government where people are restricted to when they can have certain things and how much they can have at a time. It's a slippery slope.

Personal freedom and choice trumps everything. Even life itself, because if you're ever in a situation where you feel you don't have a choice, you may as well be dead, in my opinion. There's no justification for restricting people's choices in such a way.

Although I'm not a big drinker, I enjoy a dram of whiskey every once in a while. I could potentially, conceivably go the rest of my life without ever tasting whiskey again, but knowing that I wouldn't be able to if I ever wanted one just sickens me. It rocks me to the core, and upsets every sense of what's "good" and "right" in me. And there's simply no justification for that.


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