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Africa News of Friday, 24 April 2020


South Africa to ease virus lockdown restrictions

South Africa’s president has announced an easing of some lockdown restrictions beginning next month, citing economic concerns.

But President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that most people should remain at home, public gatherings remain banned, and the country’s borders will stay closed.

From 1 May, some businesses will be allowed to reopen, and a third of their employees can return to work.

Some schools will also reopen – but with strict limits likely on class sizes.

Most people are still being urged, or told, to stay at home.

President Ramaphosa said a month-long lockdown has been working, and has slowed the pandemic’s progress. But people need to eat, and to earn a living, he said.

It is a precarious balancing act for South Africa, as for so many countries.

Mr Ramaphosa warned of the danger of a new surge of infections. There’s already concern about new spikes in several cities, and warnings that some hospitals are nowhere near ready.

But the pressure to reopen the economy – at least partially, and cautiously – is huge.

The government has announced new welfare grants to help the poorest families here.

But millions of people have lost their incomes, and aid organisations warn of growing signs of desperation.

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