Coronavirus in South Africa: Restrictions ease as Covid-19 cases rise rapidly

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In the face of a deteriorating economic situation, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has opted to ease lockdown restrictions further even though coronavirus cases are beginning to rise rapidly.

In the past week alone, the number has increased by 37%.

But in a frank address to the nation, the president highlighted the need to preserve peoples’ livelihoods.

As a result, he said that parts of the leisure industry will reopen soon.

At the end of March, the country entered into one of the strictest lockdown regimes in the world, almost all movement outside was restricted and the sale of cigarettes and alcohol was banned.

Those measures have been credited with slowing the initial spread of Covid-19 and, as Mr Ramaphosa said, gave the health sector valuable time to prepare for an influx of patients.

Coronavirus cases in South Africa

Cumulative total

But, he warned “this task is far from complete. Even after 100 days, we are still near the beginning of this epidemic and it will remain with us for many more months, possibly years”.

Nevertheless, sit-down restaurants, casinos, hotels and hair-dressers, among other businesses, will now be able to reopen, which could see half a million people going back to work.

South Africa’s economy has taken a massive knock as a result of months of lockdown and the easing of restrictions will be welcome relief to struggling small business owners, BBC business reporter Vumani Mkhize says.

The country has recorded more than 80,000 cases of coronavirus and there have been 1,674 deaths.

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