South Africa, which had one of the world’s earliest and strictest lockdowns, has announced a further easing of anti-coronavirus measures.
From 20 September an overnight curfew will be reduced, gatherings will be allowed at 50% of a venue’s capacity, and alcohol will again be on sale.”We have withstood the coronavirus storm,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a televised address to the nation.
But rules on social distancing and mask-wearing will remain in place.
South Africa – which went into a national lockdown on 27 March – has so far reported more than 650,000 confirmed infections, with over 15,000 deaths.
However, the number of new cases has dropped from about 12,000 per day in July to fewer than 2,000.
“Now is the time to return our country, its people and our economy to a situation that is more normal, that more resembles the lives that we were living six months ago,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
“It is time to move to what will become our new normal for as long as the coronavirus is with us”.
The president announced that following consultations with health experts and officials from across South Africa, the country would lower its current alert Level 2 to Level 1 from midnight on 20 September.This means that:
South Africa shut its borders at the start of the lockdown, but President Ramaphosa said that international travel would resume from 1 October.
Those arriving in South Africa must present a negative coronavirus test taken within three days of travel.
Mr Ramaphosa also said that a further stimulus package was being drawn up to rebuild an economy that has been savaged by the lockdown.