President Filipe Nyusi dashed the hopes of Mozambicans hoping he would ease restrictions imposed at the beginning of April to stop the spread of coronavirus.

In his speech to the nation on Thursday evening, he made it clear that from now it remained compulsory to wear face masks in public and the ban on all meetings attended by more than 20 people – including sporting, social or religious activities – remained in place.

He had come under strong pressure from religious groups to allow the reopening of churches and other places of worship.

Some religious dignitaries even threatened to boycott discussions on a draft law on religious freedom unless places of worship were re-opened.

But the president did not bend, stressing that religious services remained suspended until churches could provide safe and hygienic conditions for their worshippers.

He said the same went for schools, which were supposed to start a phased re-opening on 27 July.

The president stressed the need for schools to be able to guarantee adequate water and sanitation, and the conditions to ensure social distancing.

While this does not specifically rule out some classes for final year secondary students resuming at the end of the month, it now seems most unlikely to happen.

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