June 17, 2020 / 7:05 PM / 18 days ago

South Africa coronavirus restrictions further eased for casinos, salons

FILE PHOTO - A roadside hairdresser attends to a customer, openly flouting lockdown regulations amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 6, 2020. Picture taken June 6, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday casinos, cinemas, personal care services and certain forms of accommodation will be allowed to operate as the country further eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

South Africa had partly lifted a two month-old lockdown at the beginning of June, letting people outside for work, worship, exercise or shopping, and allowing mines and factories to run at full capacity to try to revive the economy.

The further easing of restrictions however comes amidst a sharp rise in infections of the highly contagious respiratory disease, with confirmed cases at 80,412 and deaths at 1,674, with the increase in the last couple of weeks accounting for a third of total cases, Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa was widely praised when he ordered one of the world’s strictest lockdowns at the end of March, confining people to their homes, forcing miners and manufacturers to slash operations and banning the sale of alcohol and cigarettes.

Opposition locally however had started to grow louder with some sectors challenging the regulations in court.

“This decision was taken with due care and seriousness, appreciating the risks associated with each activity and measures needed to manage those risks. Altogether, these industries employ well over half a million people,” said Ramaphosa.

“We have to think about these people who are employed in these industries and those who depend upon them for their livelihoods. Through the easing of the lockdown we are continuing to balance our overriding objective of saving lives and protecting livelihoods”.

Ramaphosa said during his televised address to the nation restaurants will now be allowed to offer sit-down services, cinemas, casinos, theatres, hair salons and spas would operate under strict social distancing rules, while non-contact sports like tennis and golf would be permitted, as well as accommodation for business.

A date of when these sectors will be re-opened will be announced in due course, he said.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana and Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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