Johannesburg – Every Covid-19 briefing by President Cyril Ramaphosa is a big deal.
Boozers and abazalwane quaked in their boots, fearing the president would deny them their indulgence.
After all, the third wave of the pandemic has become part of the conversation ahead of the Easter weekend.
Trying to predict what the president will say is a mug’s game loved by many people.
The news channels invite analysts to figure out which way Ramaphosa will swing and drinkers with deep pockets took the trouble to stockpile their tipple in case the sale of alcohol was prohibited.
When he eventually spoke, after he postponed the meeting to allow outgoing SABC Xhosa news presenter Noxolo Grootboom her swan song, it was a damp squib.
The president had a lot to say about the vaccine and the trajectory of the coronavirus, but people always wait to hear what restrictions he would impose.
The liquor industry and some church groupings were already mulling court action in case the president locked up.
This time, he said we could go to our favourite pubs and taverns and drink up with the fellow patrons but the bottle stores would be closed over the long weekend.
I thought I had not heard right. So, we are allowed to gather at shebeens but we cannot buy from the bottle stores and drink remotely at home?
I thought Covid-19 thrived at gatherings.
This is one of those corona decisions that defy logic, such as when we were not allowed to buy cooked food last year.
The president left it to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to explain the rationale behind the mini-booze ban. According to her, the government had gleaned valuable lessons during the festive season that people buy booze and gather with friends at the risk of infections. Then it occurred to me that bottle stores are not allowed to trade during public holidays in any case.
That nullifies the ban because apart from Saturday, most outlets would ordinarily remain closed today and tomorrow.
Ramaphosa is famed for endless consultations before taking decisions. That has always been his hallmark.
The National Coronavirus Command Council is the body tasked with giving him counsel to navigate the treacherous coronavirus waves during the lockdown.
This nebulous entity wields enormous power and is responsible for one of the longest lockdowns in the world. A week ago, our lockdown reached its anniversary although many people might not have noticed since most restrictions had already fallen by the wayside.
Despite this, the country remains very much in lockdown with the restrictions of our movement.
Abazalwane are not allowed to gather en masse and will only be permitted to commemorate the death of their saviour in small numbers.
The roads are quieter this year as the biggest annual pilgrimage to Moria in Limpopo has been canned, after the ZCC honchos decided against it, for the second consecutive year.
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