El Salvador sets out new dates for economic reopening plan

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - El Salvador’s government plans to reopen more shopping, restaurants and public transportation next month under a new plan outlined late on Wednesday, following months of economic lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

President Nayib Bukele has been forced to back off twice this month on the next stage of his reopening plans, after allowing the food sector, drug stores and gas stations to reopen in June.

Bukele’s latest directive, announced on Twitter, will allow industrial activity, shoppiusng malls, indoor dining at restaurants and mass transportation to start up again on Aug. 20.

In the following phase of the plan on Sept. 4, businesses in the so-called informal economy, along with gyms and houses of worship, will be able to resume normal activities.

Commercial flights, sporting events and beaches are seen starting back up from Sept. 19, according to the plan.

Bukele’s order, however, stressed that the dates may be altered depending on how the pandemic develops.

The Central American country’s schools have been closed to in-person instruction since March, and the new plans made no mention of educational institutions.

To date, El Salvador’s official coronavirus tally stands at more than 15,000 confirmed infections and at least 430 deaths.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria in San Salvador; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Matthew Lewis