Ayanda Ndamane African news agency/ANA

Ramaphosa says cigarette ban will eventually be lifted

CAPE TOWN- President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted a virtual imbizo with South Africans on Wednesday evening to address some of the Covid-19 issues and challenges the country is facing.

The imbizo was live streamed on multiple social media platforms, on TV and more than 80 community radio stations.

Ramaphosa said the lockdown allowed government to strengthen the country’s healthcare system and upscale screening and testing efforts.

“The reality is that we could not remain under lockdown forever. People need to earn a living. Learners need to continue with their education. Businesses need to reopen to survive and for their staff to keep their jobs,” he said.

The first question asked by a South African listener addressed the cigarette ban and when it would be lifted. The President responded by saying the nation will not be in lockdown forever and that while the ban on cigarettes remains in place, it will with time be lifted.

Another listener queried the President about the unbanning of alcohol sales and lifting of curfews, to which he responded “it was felt that alcohol should be lifted at alert level three.”

“The rationale was that we could not keep a number of sectors closed forever. But at the same time after we lifted the ban we started seeing the ugly side of our social lives where there has been excessive abuse of alcohol which has led to ills such as gender-based violence and road accidents.”

In response to a question about the reopening of schools Ramaphosa said that while lives need to be protected, livelihoods also need to be protected and the academic year needed to continue. He said it was a calculated risk that millions of learners return to school.

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