South Africa sought to revive its stuttering economy on Monday with the partial lifting of a coronavirus lockdown, letting people out for work, worship or shopping, and allowing mines and factories to run at full capacity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was widely praised when he ordered a strict lockdown at the end of March, but the measures have battered the economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation, which was already in recession before the coronavirus.
South Africa’s central bank expects the economy, which has been hard hit by the impact of power cuts at crisis-hit state energy firm Eskom, to contract by 7% this year.
But moving to “level 3” lockdown so soon has been questioned by some who say it will inevitably increase the number of coronavirus cases, which jumped above 30,000 over the weekend.
“We are taking a gradual approach, guided by the advice of our scientists and led by the realities on the ground,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.