The ban on the sale, distribution and transportation of alcohol has been reinstated, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday night, as SA moves to level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown.
"One of the more difficult areas of regulation relates to the sale of alcohol. The liquor industry is a major employer and an important contributor to our economy," Ramaphosa said in his address to the nation.
"Our priority at this time, however, must be to save lives."
The move to level 3 was necessitated by the second wave of Covid-19 infections, with the country passing more than a million cases and 27 000 known deaths. More recently there have been 50 000 new cases since Christmas Eve.
Ramaphosa said the sale of alcohol from retail outlets and the on-site consumption would not be permitted. The prohibition on consuming alcohol in public spaces like parks and beaches would remain.
Distribution and transportation of alcohol will be prohibited with exceptions that will be explained later.
Ramaphosa said these regulations may be reviewed within the next few weeks if there is "a sustained decline in infections and hospital admissions".
"As we had to in the early days of the lockdown, we now have to flatten the curve to protect the capacity of our healthcare system to enable it to respond effectively to this new wave of infections," the president said.
"In such a scenario, every piece of medical equipment, every hospital bed, every healthcare worker, and every oxygen tank is needed to save lives."