South Africa eases lockdown as ‘outbreak reaches peak’

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that stringent coronavirus regulations would be eased as of Monday as the country’s infection rate falls.

Mr Ramaphosa said the easing of restrictions will help to revive the country’s flagging economy after a period of great hardship for the country.

“The move to level two means that we can remove nearly all of the restrictions on the resumption of economic activity across most industries,” he said.

Most businesses were shuttered for five weeks from late March, when the government imposed one of the world’s most severe lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

South Africa imposed in March one of the strictest lockdowns in the world as part of efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus. Alcohol sales were prohibited to ease pressure on hospitals, allowing doctors in emergency wards to focus on COVID-19 rather than road accidents and other booze-related injuries.

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Africa’s hardest-hit country will permit sale of alcohol and tobacco as well as reopening of restaurants and taverns.Domestic travel, small family gatherings and the reopening of businesses will all be allowed.but restrictions on international arrivals will remain in place.

Ramaphosa called on South Africans not to let their guard down against COVID-19 despite “signs of hope”, warning of difficult times ahead.

The country has recorded more than half of Africa’s coronavirus infections, with more than 570,000 cases and 11,500 deaths to date.The number of active cases has declined to about 105,000 and the recovery rate risen to 80%.