South Africans started hoarding cigarettes and alcoholic beverages en masse on Tuesday, after a ban on these products was lifted by the government. The smoking and drinking products were banned in March to prevent the spread of the corona virus.
The relaxation was announced on Saturday and will start on Tuesday from 00:01 am (local time). The suspension of the ban is part of a broader package of relaxations.
Given the months-long ban, there were long queues in the South African stores. "People don't buy parcels, but slippers," says a convenience store employee. A customer in a tobacco shop in Johannesburg says that he will buy several cigarette packs, because he expects the easing to be reversed soon.
South Africa is one of the five countries in the world that have been hit hardest by the corona crisis. According to figures from the American University of Johns Hopkins, 589,886 people in the country have been infected with the corona virus. Only Russia, India, Brazil and the United States have experienced more corona infections.