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South Africa to ease regulations, but some restrictions will stay for long

Agency News

After many days of strict lockdown, South Africa is mulling to slowly ease regulations in various sectors and bring out structural reforms to help the economic recovery at the end of April 30, when the lockdown to end.

Local government minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says SA’s nationwide lockdown will be eased in an incremental and orderly manner. She said the country "will not open the floodgates" at the end of the lockdown on April 30.

“Some regulations will remain in place for a very long time,” Dlamini-Zuma added. Instead of withdrawing lockdown on April 30, the government will instead announce weekly which areas of industry will be allowed to operate as it gradually eases the lockdown. A meeting of the President’s Coordinating Council on Saturday has taken crucial decisions regarding all these.

“We agreed on the need to the resumption of economic activity at the completion of the lockdown period,” the Presidency said in a statement.

The virtual gathering, chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa, “discussed progress and challenges in the implementation of the nationwide lockdown with specific emphasis on the need for relief of social distress suffered by many South Africans who have suffered a loss of income, who are experiencing food shortages or who do not have access to water,” according to the statement.

South Africa is on day 23 of a five-week national lockdown that was extended from an initial planned 21 days. While the restrictions first halted all economic activity, except essential services, Cooperative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced this week that mines can resume work at 50% capacity. The central bank projects the economy will contract by 6.1% this year and cut its key interest rate to a record low on April 14 following the decision to keep the restrictions in place until the end of April.

Labor union representatives told Ramaphosa Friday at a special meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council that a 40 billion rand ($2.1 billion) fund to compensate temporarily laid-off workers is not being distributed fast enough and the 17 million people on welfare need more assistance.

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