June 22, 2020 / 3:35 PM / 19 days ago

Namibia further relaxes coronavirus restrictions despite rising case

WINDHOEK, June 22 (Reuters) - Namibia’s President Hage Geingob on Monday announced a further easing of the country’s coronavirus lockdown to boost economic activity, despite a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Geingob said the country would move from ‘stage 3’ to ‘stage 4’ of a five-level exit from lockdown plan, except for the Erongo region - where the harbour town of Walvis Bay is located and which is Namibia’s coronavirus hotspot.

“The government’s approach, to further relax national restrictions under Stage 4, aims to boost social and economic activities, while continuing to advocate for intensified public adherence to health and hygiene protocols to safeguard our successes,” Geingob said.

Namibia has confirmed 63 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 17 new cases identified in the past 48 hours.

Geingob said under the relaxed regulations, which are effective June 30, a limited number of tourists from “a carefully selected low-risk market” would be admitted to help revive a sector that employs 100,000 people.

Casinos and gambling houses will open for pre-booked clients with no walk-ins, while informal gambling houses will be allowed to open as long as they maintain a logbook.

The relaxed regulations will also see the number of people allowed at public gatherings such as weddings, funerals and religious services increased to 250 from 50. Sporting activities will now be permitted, subject to adherence to the public gathering limit.

Geingob said the country could move to ‘stage 5’ in September, which will see borders reopen as well as the resumption of air travel. (Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Alex Richardson)

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