Algeria’s lust for life despite COVID-19 and unfinished revolution

Coronavirus pandemic, lack of cash, fires… To counter the gloom, many Algerians have chosen to live life to the fullest. Even if it means braving the forbidden.

In a small village in the Soummam valley, in the heart of Kabylie, a take-away alcoholic drink shop attracts a crowd every day, as busy as it is discreet.

With the metal curtain down, customers enter this nirvana for lovers of suds through a small back door.

The shop is “open” from the early morning hours but at nightfall, there is a hustle and bustle to get served.

Officially, liquor stores, as well as all pubs, have been closed by a wali (governor) order since March.

Their owners know that they risk very heavy fines, the cancellation of their licences and the permanent closure of their shops if they are caught breaking the law.

Parallel market

However, security guards posted outside keep an eye out and the surveillance cameras inside the store provide timely warnings of any raids by the constables.

Several stores in the region work clandestinely like this. A tacit agreement seems to have been reached between the authorities and the alcohol sellers: some work with the curtains down, while others look down and pretend not to see anything.

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