- More businesses will also be allowed to operate, and the overnight curfew will be lifted.
- Cultural, entertainment, sporting, recreational and similar activities remain prohibited.
- The country has so far recorded 429 deaths from the virus and has 22,583 confirmed coronavirus cases.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that beginning June 1 more restrictions will be eased to allow the country’s economy to run. However, he also warned the coronavirus situation is still going to get worse amid the easing of some of the lockdown measures. “The risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than ever,” the President said.
In an address to the nation on Sunday, Ramaphosa said:
“We have known all along that the lockdown would only delay the spread of the virus, but that it would not be able to stop it. Until there is a vaccine available to all, the coronavirus will continue to spread in our population. This means that we must get used to living with the coronavirus for some time to come. As scientists had predicted, the infections in our country have now started to rise sharply. One-third of the cumulative confirmed cases were recorded in the last week alone. And we should expect that these numbers will rise even further and even faster.”
The ease on lockdown restrictions will allow conditional sale of alcohol for limited hours on specific days. More businesses will also be allowed to operate, and the overnight curfew will be lifted. The president also announced a phased re-opening of schools, adding that no parent will be forced to take their child to school.
However, the ban on cigarette smoking will however remain in place. Cultural, entertainment, sporting, recreational and similar activities remain prohibited. Public gatherings remain banned, except for burials and meetings which allow for a maximum of 50 people. The country began gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions in May 1, which allowed selected mines, factories and businesses to reopen with about 30% of its employees.
Ramaphosa revealed that there will be a different approach in terms of easing the lockdown procedures in areas declared to be coronavirus hot spots. “We will assign a full-time team of experienced personnel to each hotspot. This team will include epidemiologists, family practitioners, nurses, community health workers, public health experts and emergency medical services, to be supported by Cuban experts.”
The President stated that he was in talks with religious leaders to find an amicable solution pertaining to partial reopening of the spiritual worship and counseling sessions. Ramaphosa said the national borders remain closed, except for transportation of goods and repatriation of nationals.
The president’s announcement came at a time when a mining company in the country had reported that 164 workers in a gold mine had tested positive for the coronavirus. Operations in the gold mine has been halted and all the workers have been placed in isolation to help stop the spread of the virus.
The country has so far recorded 429 deaths from the virus and has 22,583 confirmed coronavirus cases. Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape Province are the hardest hit areas, and account for 65% of the total confirmed cases of the virus.