The government has backtracked on an “incorrect” tweet regarding the ban on cigarettes and alcohol sales during the lockdown.
On Wednesday, the government said the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes would remain in place throughout the lockdown period.
“The ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes will remain in place throughout the lockdown period. The purpose is to save lives and protect the health and wellbeing of our people,” it said on its official Twitter account.
The now-deleted tweet caused concern over the government’s confusing messages and resulted in an outrage online.
Many, including Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni slammed the tweet for contradicting the government’s previous position.
Shortly after causing a commotion, the government retracted the tweet and apologised for the confusion.
“This account posted a tweet earlier today which said that the ban on the sale of alcohol and cigarettes would remain in place throughout the lockdown period. This is incorrect. The sale of alcohol and tobacco products is prohibited under the current level 3 regulations,” it said.
Cigarette sales have been banned since the lockdown was first declared in March. Both President Cyril Ramaphosa and minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said the ban on tobacco would likely be lifted at level 2 of the lockdown.
The ban on alcohol sales was reintroduced last week after Ramaphosa said alcohol-related trauma cases had increased since it was lifted in June, causing the country’s hospitals to struggle to treat Covid-19 related cases.
“As we head towards the peak of infections, it is vital that we do not burden our clinics and hospitals with alcohol-related injuries that could have been avoided,” said Ramaphosa.