S Africa facing 'mammoth task' to rebuild coronavirus-hit economy

S Africa facing 'mammoth task' to rebuild coronavirus-hit economy

Johannesburg, South Africa - President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans to "roll up our sleeves" to help rebuild the country's faltering economy as he announced the rolling back of most COVID-19 restrictions. The easing, which will begin at midnight on Sunday, will see larger social gatherings permitted, extended hours for the sale of alcohol, a return from next month to international travel under strict conditions as well as the full reopening of key industries such as construction and manufacturing. Government directives to wear face masks in public and observe physical distancing remain in place along with a national curfew - albeit only for four hours from midnight until 4am. In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa said the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic has been defeated and it is now time to revive economic activity. "Our economy and our society have suffered great devastation. We have endured a fierce and destructive storm," he added, noting that the number of new infections had fallen from an average of 12,000 per day in July to fewer than 2,000. The government in late March began enforcing one of the world's strictest lockdowns aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus. All sectors of the economy deemed inessential were shut down as part of a series of drastic measures under a five-level risk system. Already in a recession before the pandemic struck, official statistics last week showed the economy had shrunk at an annualised rate of 51 percent during the second quarter ...
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