South Africa will reopen the majority of its economy starting June 1, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during a televised address to the nation on Sunday evening.
Most sectors will open under new level three regulations, but with strict observance of social distancing and health safety measures.
The national borders will remain closed and flights will continue to be grounded, except for cargo. Schools will begin a phased reopening, with grades 7 and 12 beginning on June 1.
All public universities will be expected to begin remote teaching.
The nation’s coronavirus-related alcohol ban will be lifted for home consumption, but its ban on cigarettes continues under level three.
“We are in much better position than many other countries at this stage in the progression of the disease,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa has conducted close to 600,000 coronavirus tests and more than 12 million screenings thanks to an army of around 60,000 public health workers deployed at the start of the country’s outbreak.
Ramaphosa admitted that one third of South Africa’s cumulative cases occurred in the last week alone, adding that modeling shows that “the coronavirus pandemic is going to get much worse before it gets better.”
“We have known all along that the lockdown would only delay the spread of the virus, but it would not be able to stop it,” said Ramaphosa.