The nation’s misery was compounded by protests that erupted after former President Jacob Zuma was jailed this month on contempt-of-court charges and morphed into a looting spree in which thousands of businesses and street traders were targeted. At least 330 people died in the unrest, which the South African Property Owners Association estimates cost the country about 50 billion rand in lost output and placed 150,000 jobs at risk.
“We have a duty to support those affected by this violence,” Ramaphosa said. “Many small and medium-sized businesses, formal and informal, have lost everything and will not be able to rebuild on their own. We will not abandon them.”
The president said South Africa will move to an adjusted virus alert level 3, from alert level 4, after the country passed the peak of a third wave of Covid-19 cases and the government’s vaccination program gathered pace.
Alcohol sales, which have been banned for the past four weeks, will now be permitted at retail outlets from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and at restaurants. A moratorium on leisure travel in some areas will be revoked, while gatherings of as many as 50 people will be allowed indoors and as many as 100 outdoors.
An average of about 12,000 new Covid-19 cases were detected daily in South Africa last week, a 20% decline on the week before, although the situation varied widely from area to area. Infections continued to climb in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape provinces.
“Infections remain high and we must continue to exercise caution at all times,” Ramaphosa said.
The country has issued more than 6.3 million vaccines so far, and will have enough shots to last until the end of the year, with 31 million doses from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc. expected to arrive within in the next three months. All those over the age of 18 will be able to be inoculated from Sept. 1, the president said.