South Africa plans curfew from May 1 as it slowly lifts lockdown

South Africa will implement a curfew from the start of May as it plans a limited return of its workforce into an economy that’s virtually ground to a halt due to a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The curfew will start at 8 p.m. and run until 5 a.m., the government said in an infographic on its Twitter account Saturday. Food deliveries will be allowed to take place in non-curfew hours, it said.

“People returning from work should then stay at home,” Minister for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said in a briefing broadcast from the capital, Pretoria. Wearing masks outside the home will be mandatory, and the government recommends employees aged 60 or more work from home, she said.

South Africa is taking a phased approach in exiting one of the strictest lockdowns globally, where the sale of alcohol, cigarettes and exercise outside of the home hasn’t been allowed. The pandemic and a lockdown that came into effect on March 27 to contain spread has compounded the nation’s woes, with the central bank anticipating a 6.1% contraction in gross domestic product this year. Economic workgroup Business for South Africa projects there could be 1 million job losses.

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus, Africa’s most industrialised economy was already grappling with a 29% unemployment rate and was stuck in its longest downward cycle since World War II — a slump that largely stemmed from nine years of misrule by former leaderJacob Zuma, who left office in 2018.

The government will allow sales of winter clothing, bedding and heating as the nation enters winter. Mines are resuming operations, and automotive manufacturing can ramp up to half their full capacity, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said.

In the loosened lockdown starting May 1, sales of tobacco products will be allowed, and exercise that isn’t undertaken in groups or in buildings such as gyms will be reintroduced, Dlamini-Zuma said.

© 2020 Bloomberg