Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday ordered the immediate suspension of alcohol sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a media statement issued by the country’s Health Services, the decision to stop alcohol sales is based on “evidence that consumption of alcohol increases the risks posed by COVID-19 due to its negative effects to protocol adherence”.

Botswana says all liquor stores in the country will remain closed, and the sale and consumption of alcohol in public will be prohibited until further notice.

The media statement can be read in the tweet below:

Lockdown reinstated

Botswana’s capital city Gaborone returned to a two-week lockdown last Thursday.

Officials say this is a bid to stem the latest local coronavirus surge in the country.

Under new rules for the capital and surrounding areas, only essential workers would be able to leave home for work, with others only able to leave the house to buy groceries.

All gatherings have been banned and hotels, restaurants, gyms and schools are closed.

Botswana had ended a national lockdown on June 15, allowing businesses and schools to reopen under strict conditions.

The country was recording most of its cases at border points from truck drivers bringing goods into the landlocked country from South Africa.

The diamond-rich country is now experiencing a surge in local transmission cases, with most infections coming from schools in the greater Gabarone region, coordinator of the COVID-19 Task force team, Kereng Masupu, said in a televised briefing.

Botswana currently sits at 804 confirmed cases, with 63 recoveries and two deaths.

-Additional reporting by Reuters.