S.Africans must wear masks after lockdown eases: minister

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South Africans will have to wear face masks from May 1 when coronavirus lockdown restrictions will begin to be eased, the government said Saturday.

"It is going to be mandatory to use a cloth mask as you step out of your ," Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told a press conference in Pretoria.

"You will need to have your nose and mouth covered in public," Dlamini-Zuma said, adding that people could use a scarf or T-shirt if they do not have a mask.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Thursday that coronavirus restrictions would be progressively eased from May 1 as the country comes out of a lockdown imposed on March 27 to combat the pandemic.

Industry and Commerce Minister Ebrahim Patel said Saturday that among the changes, agriculture will be allowed to resume completely; restaurants can open but only for while mines can restart some activities.

In total, about 20 percent of industrial and commercial employees will be allowed back to work, Patel said.

Those businesses which do return to work will be required to observe standards scrupuously so as to avoid infection, including regular checks for COVID-19 symptoms.

"If you are not an essential worker or do not work in the prioritised sectors continue to stay at home, except when you are buying essential goods or services or for emergency medical services," Dlamini-Zuma said.

"If you can, please work from home no matter the sector you are in," she added.

Among other restrictions being lifted from May 1 are the sale of cigarettes—but not alcohol—while people will be allowed to do sport but only under strict health safeguard conditions due to be laid out shortly.

There will also be a 8:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew, except for essential workers.

South Africa has reported 3,953 cases plus 75 deaths.

© 2020 AFP

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