South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday announced that stringent coronavirus regulations would be eased on Sunday as the country’s infection rate falls.
The government will remove “nearly all” restrictions on economic activity as of Aug. 17, lift restrictions on inter-provincial travel, and the current ban on alcohol and tobacco sales, Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation on Saturday evening.
The president also said restrictions on family and social visits will be removed, but South Africans will stay obligated to wear a face mask in public, and no more than 50 people may gather.
“All indications are that South Africa has reached the peak and moved beyond the inflection point of the curve,” Ramaphosa said.
So far, South Africa had a night-time curfew and controversially banned alcohol and tobacco sales, citing health reasons.
“A national “state of disaster,” implemented five months ago, will however be extended by one month, until Sept. 15.
“South Africa has confirmed 583,653 cases and remains by far the worst affected country on the continent,” the president said.
“But the number of active cases was falling every day, and the recovery rate is currently at 80 percent.”
The restrictions have had a devastating effect on the country’s economy, with millions struggling to survive, and poverty and food insecurity worsening dramatically in just a few weeks.