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‘People got to eat’: South Africa eases coronavirus lockdown

South Africa has began to gradually loosen its strict coronavirus lockdown, allowing some industries to reopen after five weeks of restrictions that plunged its struggling economy deeper into turmoil.

The economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation was already teetering when the lockdown kicked in on March 27 to contain the spread of infections.

The government has adopted a gradual and phased approach to reopen the country from May Day .

About 1.5 million workers in selected industries return to figure within the next phase under strict health conditions, consistent with Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.

Winter clothing, textile and packaging manufacturing are among the industries permitted to reopen factories. Restaurants also will open, but just for takeaway deliveries.

Bans on the sale of cigarettes and alcohol will remain in effect.

Some outdoor activities like cycling, walking and running are going to be allowed – except for just three hours within the morning.

Social distancing and wearing masks publicly and at workplaces are going to be mandatory.

Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma warned, “Companies that breach regulations are going to be forced to shut .”

President Cyril Ramaphosa took the choice to stagger the easing of the lockdown restrictions during a bid to strike a balance between protecting public health and therefore the economy.

“Our people got to eat. they have to earn a living,” Ramaphosa said. “Companies got to be ready to produce and to trade, they have to get revenue and keep their employees employed .”

South Africa’s economy was in recession and reeling from low growth and high debts before the coronavirus pandemic began.

Last week, President Ramaphosa unveiled an unprecedented $26.9bn economic stimulus and social relief package, amounting to about 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said the country will seek coronavirus relief aid from the IMF and therefore the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development , where it’s eligible for up to $4.2bn.

The lockdown has had a devastating effect on the economy, but a top government adviser on the pandemic said it’s slowed transmissions.

“The lockdown has had quite effect,” communicable disease epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim told the AFP press agency .

“We have gotten quite clear evidence that we’ve flattened the curve which the amount of cases we are seeing – and therefore the number of infections probably occurring – has declined quite substantially.”

The country’s number of confirmed infections has risen to five ,647 since the primary case was detected on March 5. it’s also recorded Africa’s highest COVID-19 price , with 103 fatalities.

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