Somewhere north of 700,000 South Africans woke up on Monday morning to find that their jobs, or a large part of their jobs, had disappeared. On Sunday morning they had them. On Monday they didn’t, after President Cyril Ramaphosa banned outright, again, the sale of alcohol anywhere in the country, ostensibly because victims of alcohol-related crime and accidents have been clogging up hospital space needed by victims of the coronavirus.

A previous ban, from the end of March to June 1, had been imposed to prevent alcohol-related occupation of hospital beds. That did a lot of damage to the industry, despite the fact that there were relatively few Covid-19 patients in hospitals during that period, meaning there was no clogging...

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