South Africa to ease lockdown despite surge in Covid-19 cases

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The president's address follows recent meetings of Cabinet, the National Coronavirus Command Council, and the President's Coordinating Council, which considered the prospects for the country's progression from Covid-19 alert level four to alert level three of the national lockdown, the Presidency said in a statement.

Ramaphosa, meanwhile, reiterated the government's plans to allow schools to reopen for senior years from June 1, and said one-third of university students would also be allowed back on campus.

"Should it be necessary, any part of the country could be returned to alert levels 4 or 5 if the spread is not contained despite our interventions".

He stressed the the decision to place the country under stringent level 5 lockdown on March 23 was instrumental in curbing the spead of the virus.

Alcohol may be sold for home consumption only, under strict conditions, on specified days and for limited hours.

The president said that alcohol would be permitted, subject to strict restrictions, but the sale of tobacco products would remain prohibited.

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He announced that all businesses in the manufacturing and mining sectors, as well as shops will reopen, and alcohol sales will be allowed under some conditions starting from June 1. E-commerce will continue to remain open. But all gatherings, except funerals or meetings for work purposes, will remain prohibited, as will the sale of tobacco and dining at restaurants. Domestic air travel for business reasons will be allowed too, and more air travel will be phased in on dates to be announced.

High risk activities, however, will remain closed.

Other sectors which can not reopen include conferences, events, entertainment and sporting activities.

Mr Ramaphosa identified seven cities as "coronavirus hotspots", including the administrative capital Pretoria, the financial hub Johannesburg and the coastal city of Cape Town. "We are asking that those who do not need to go to work or go to an educational institution stay at home", the president said.

Ramaphosa said that government will rely on social compacts to address risk factors associated with the spread of Covid-19 at the workplace, and between employees and the public. If you develop any symptoms contact your doctor or clinic, they will advise your next steps.

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