The imminent end to the ban of alcohol sales has the security industry and medical fields prepping for the inevitable crime spike that will follow.
In normal times some 34,000 trauma cases arrive at emergency departments in South Africa every week.
But one month into the national hard lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, that figure plummeted, dramatically, by roughly two thirds, to about 12,000 admissions.
Once the ban is lifted there will be an inevitable increase in drunken fights, cases of domestic violence, drunk driving, and the weekend binge-drinking so prevalent across South Africa. Police, medics, and analysts estimate – conservatively – that alcohol is involved in, or responsible for, at least 40% of all emergency hospital admissions.
Rhys Evans, managing director of Alco-safe, which supplies drug and alcohol testing equipment and accessories, said in a statement: “[Intoxication] is and always has been hazardous on the road and in the workplace, especially where dangerous equipment is used.
“However, in the current climate there is even greater risk. People who are intoxicated are less likely to follow social distancing requirements and hygiene practices, risking further spread of the virus.”
He said it was imperative that companies ensured workplaces were safe and tested their staff to ensure no one was under the influence of alcohol.
Since the standard testing mechanisms for alcohol were breathalysers and the coronavirus was spread through droplets, businesses needed to ensure they adapted their testing procedure.
It was essential to avoid physical contact between the person being tested and the breathalyser device, as well as between the instrument, the person being tested and the person doing the testing. The person manning the device should observe strict precautions, including washing and sanitising their hands and wearing gloves and a face mask.
He also advised using disposable straws to ensure there was no contact.