JOHANNESBURG 

South Africa’s president said the novel coronavirus was slowing down in the country, as he announced a further relaxation in lockdown restrictions.

In a televised address to the nation Saturday night, Cyril Ramaphosa said virus infections appeared to have peaked, and nearly all restrictions, including the lifting of ban on sales of alcohol and tobacco, will be eased from Monday.

“The move to Alert Level 2 means we can remove nearly all of the restrictions on the country’s economy,” he said, adding that activities will resume with stringent health protocols and safety precautions in place.

In March, South Africa implemented one of the strictest lockdown regulations. Borders were shut, schools were closed, and people were told to stay at home. Only essential workers were allowed outside.

To recover from economic loss, it started gradually easing restrictions from June 1, including the reopening of places of worship.

“Alcohol will be permitted for on-site consumption in licensed establishments only up until 10 p.m.,’’ the president said, adding that restrictions on international travel, as well as a curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. will still remain in effect.

He said the country will not allow gatherings of more than 50 people except for funerals and religious events. Spectators will also not be permitted at sporting events.

South Africa has 583,653 confirmed virus cases, the highest on the continent and the fifth globally, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country has lost at least 11,667 people to the pandemic.

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