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South Africa partially lifts one of world’s strictest lockdownsSouth Africa has today partly lifted one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, letting people outside for work, worship, exercise or shopping after two months, and allowing mines and factories to run at full capacity to try to revive the economy.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was widely praised when he ordered the lockdown at the end of March, confining people to their homes, forcing miners and manufacturers to slash operations by half, and banning the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.
But the measures have battered the economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation, which was already in recession before the virus, owing mostly to power cuts at its dysfunctional state provider, Eskom.
The government hopes today’s move to “level 3” lockdown will sputter businesses to a start. It will inevitably increase the number of coronavirus infections, which over the weekend jumped past 30,000.
South Africa has so far had fewer than 700 Covid-19 deaths, while vastly more people – half of whom live below the official poverty line – are at risk from hunger because of the shutdown.