South Africa: Cigarette, alcohol prices rise as sellers go underground

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Sellers of cigarettes and alcohol have gone underground following the government’s ban on the items as it seeks to contain the novel Coronavirus.

The government of President Cyril Ramaphosa had placed the ban in March as it sought to control a likely spike in Coronavirus cases.

New York Times reports that the sellers had resorted to mixing with groups of men in street corners from where they retail their merchandise.

Some other retailers are selling out of the basements of supermarkets and homes, hiding the merchandise in-between milk and other groceries.

Prices of the items had also tripled even as police search cars at checkpoints.

Defending the ban on alcohol sales amid cries of protest from the liquor industry, Ramaphosa said alcohol was “a hindrance to the fight against coronavirus.”

“There are proven links between the sale and consumption of alcohol and violent crime, motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies at a time when all public and private resources should be preparing to receive and treat vast numbers of Covid-19 patients,” the president said in a statement.

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