Regulatory policy

Policy, system and practice response to alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in seven countries of the WHO African Region

Insight

This snapshot describes and synthesizes policy changes in alcohol policies, systems and practices adopted by seven African countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: Botswana, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Measures put in place to deal with the acceptability of alcohol have focused on restricting consumption, raising awareness or restricting advertising. Many governments enacted public health restrictions such as changing business hours, closing bars and restaurants, and issuing stay-at-home orders that restricted the availability of alcohol. Very few countries have implemented regulatory changes that address alcohol affordability. Six of the seven countries reported corporate social responsibility activities undertaken by the alcohol industry and lobbying efforts against government measures. Few efforts to curb alcohol consumption have extended beyond the initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many countries have seen an increase in the illicit trade in alcohol; relatively loose restrictions have led to an expansion of online and door-to-door delivery. Civil society organizations have mobilized to support the fight against alcohol.