South Africa has announced an easing of some lockdown restrictions beginning next month, citing economic concerns.

But President Cyril Ramaphosa warned that most people should remain at home, public gatherings remain banned, and the country’s borders will stay closed.

From 1 May, some businesses will be allowed to reopen, and a third of their employees can return to work.

Tough rules had even seen a ban on cigarette sales but that will be lifted. Alcohol sales remain banned.

Some schools will also reopen but with strict limits likely on class sizes.

The country has some of the most stringent coronavirus lockdown restrictions in the world, but security forces have struggled to enforce them.

Most people are still being urged to stay at home.

President Ramaphosa said a month-long lockdown had been working, and had slowed the pandemic’s progress. But “people need to eat”, and to “earn a living”, he said.

He also urged people to wear masks on public transport. However at the end of his speech he struggled while demonstrating how to put on a mask, leading to widespread mockery on social media.

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