Botswana bans sale of alcohol, suspends liquor licences in COVID-19 battle

A pedestrian walks past a closed down butchery and liquor store in Gaborone during the state of emergency in Botswana (Photo by Monirul Bhuiyan / AFP)

The government of Botswana banned the sale and consumption of alcohol in public places and suspended all liquor licences as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi made the declaration through a gazette notice released by the government on Wednesday.

“NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that His Excellency the President, acting in accordance with regulation 30G of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Regulations, 2020, has with immediate effect suspended all liquor licences issued in terms of the Liquor Act,” the notice read in part.

The government clarified that “liquor” also included traditional beers, which are brewed by a majority of rural households in Botswana.

“The suspension of the sale of alcohol is based on evidence that consumption of alcohol increases the risks posed by COVID-19 due to its negative effects on adherence to COVID-19 protocols.”

The government also ordered the indefinite closure of all liquor stores in the country.

Botswana banned the sale of alcohol and closed all bars when it enforced a lockdown earlier in the year.

In June, President Masisi warned that the government will re-impose restrictions if citizens behaved irresponsibly after they were eased. The government had decided to relax the sale and consumption of alcohol in a controlled manner as part of efforts to reopen the economy.

Botswana has reported 804 confirmed cases and two deaths and 63 recoveries from the disease as of August 5, according to the Africa CDC.