CityLife Arts

My view on theatre opening and alcohol ban

By Edward Tsumele

And so the President this week announced a raft of restrictions to try and minimize the chances and rate of infections and in the process lessen the burden on the health care system, but more importantly to save lives.

Anyone who has an issue with this clearly needs their head to be examined, and maybe, as a suggestion they should change the brand of whatever they are smoking as clearly the quality is questionable.

But of course these invigorated restrictions have implications on people’s liberties, and during times of a crisis such as this one we are facing, some liberties are inevitably curtailed for the greater good of society, up to a certain extent of course.

For example theatres will find it hard but not impossible to operate profitably, even though in terms of the law under level three they are allowed to open for as long as they follow certain health protocols, including not having more than 50 people in theatre watching a show at one time.

Dr. S Ramdheen

Theatres can still be creative around the challenge of how to still open doors and run shows profitably when the numbers of the audience allowed to watch together is limited, especially small theatres that take up to a maximum of 200 people under normal circumstances. They could reduce this to 50 and still be able to open and meet the health protocol standards. But then they need to have two shows a day on the days that it is practically possible to do so.

But here is the tricky part of this arrangement – the curfew, which starts at 9pm running until 4am. This means that although the law allows theatres to open, the theatres will have to change their usual starting time for shows, which is normally 8pm  and shows run up to two hours. Clearly there is no way someone will be able to attend a show at 8pm and still be able to be out of the streets by 9pm, as in fact they will still be in the theatre watching, and therefore they will be breaking the law.

And so what is the solution? The solution is to change times and run shows during the day. And this can work especially well during holidays and at weekends when people are not at work. And to manage the logistics of social distancing should not be that difficult as they can use the same model as used by supermarkets currently whereby queues are managed well, complying with the two metre distance requirement for safety.  This could be applied to ticket queues at theatre as well. This way actors and theatre producers can earn a bit of money. It will not be much, but it is still money.

Anyway, here is another issue that has made many South African angry, especially responsible adult South Africans who enjoy one or two glasses of wine at home while watching TV or watching shows at the ongoing National Arts Festival, which is currently enjoying an extended run on the virtual world.

Such people can no longer enjoy their drinks in the safety of their homes simply because some among us behave so badly that they stab each other, shoot each other, and maim and kill each kill on the road because they are drunk and can no longer have the ability to control, their cars.

This category of scoundrels generally behave so badly that the government was left with no choice but to ban the sale of alcohol again.

Sorry for those among us who behave well. But there are just too many of the badly behaved drunks among us. These are the ones who failed the test set by government, and not the rest of us. Unfortunately because of the virus it is a question of fail one, fail all, for our own safety.

If you still believe this was a bad decision consider this plea put up on Facebook by a doctor who works in an Emergency ward at a Gauteng Hospital and tell me that you are still not convinced that the ban on alcohol sales is not a right decision under the circumstances.

”I missed the presidential address last night because I was at work. But it seems a lot of people have “opinions” on why it’s so ridiculous to ban alcohol again.  Well let me tell you some FACTS from an emergency medicine practitioner.

On Saturday, I worked a 12 hour shift. In this time, my colleagues and I saw multiple trauma patients. Far too many of them were woman beaten by drunken men, including a 62 year old. I’m not talking about a smack on the face. Apart from the large bruises on their limbs, one of the women had her shoulder dislocated, another had her skull exposed and a broken leg.

Then an elderly lady was rushed in… her lifeless body slouched on a wheelchair. It was too late. She was dead from multiple stab wounds inflicted by her drunk son.We also see patients referred to as “community assaults”. Many that day… One such patient arrived later that evening with serious injuries to his head, limbs and abdomen. Guess what! That was the guy that stabbed the elderly lady to death!!

As I was about to leave, a couple frantically ran into the ED with their screaming child. A drunk driver crashed into their house and injured this innocent child!

Oh wait, there’s more. We are an EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT. That was just some examples of the trauma caused by alcohol.

We also have really sick patients constantly flowing in with heart attacks, strokes, life threatening complications from diabetes and hypertension AND we are in the middle of a pandemic!!! COVID patients are so sick and need so much critical care. It’s nothing like we’ve seen before.

This is just 12 hours, in one ED, in one hospital. I haven’t even mentioned the non-violent injuries.

I left work that day feeling deflated and frankly disappointed with South Africans. To top that off, as I drove out, a DRUNK driver shot a red light, almost crashed into me and then tried to push me off the road! He then proceeded to crash into 2 cars ahead of me. Do I deserve to be a victim of his irresponsible behavior???

I’m tired of people complaining about restrictions. I have not seen my parents in a month because I’m out here sacrificing myself for all of YOU. I’m being responsible and won’t be a vector of infection to my family. Is it so hard for people to do the same??? Is it my responsibility only??? I know I’m a health care worker and I signed up for this, but we are humans too. We are exposed to COVID on the daily and my colleagues are getting sick. Some even dying. So we are facing staff shortages which adds to the strain of us trying to do our best for every patient. You know who else is dying from COVID? Elderly people! Because young people don’t know how to behave, go out unnecessarily and take the infection home to their families while they remain well or slightly ill.

South Africans were given time to get educated about this disease and act responsibly and even got access to alcohol again. But they’ve proven that they are a burden to the health care system. On the first day alcohol was sold again, our hospital beds filled up with alcohol related injuries and complications. We had spent months preparing those beds for COVID patients. So where should we now put sick COVID patients when the numbers are increasing so rapidly??

I know that it won’t stop violent injuries totally, but the first alcohol ban gave us palpable relief from our usual trauma burden. My colleagues and I celebrated when we heard the news last night! It makes the biggest difference to us on the front line.

People this is not POLITICS. It’s a PANDEMIC!!!Everyone needs to fight this together. I do sympathize with those that depend on income from an alcohol based industry. But to those “responsible” drinkers who can’t sacrifice alcohol for a little while…unless you can walk a day in my shoes, put your empty glass down and STFU.”  Dr. S Ramdheen has spoken.

Please share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *