Ramaphosa Considers Easing Virus Restrictions as Cases Decline

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is preparing to ease coronavirus restrictions after the rate of new infections dropped, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The government is considering moving to virus alert level 1, from level 3, the people said, declining to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak to the media about the plans. The easing would include the removal of all restrictions on alcohol sales, shortening the nightly curfew and allowing more people to attend gatherings.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to address the nation later on Sunday about the nation’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. His spokesman, Tyrone Seale, forwarded an earlier statement about the president’s address when Bloomberg sought comment.

The number of new coronavirus infections has dropped to less than 1,500 a day from a peak of about 22,000 in early January. More than 1.5 million people in South Africa have contracted the disease that’s killed almost 50,000 people, according to Health Ministry data.

Ramaphosa moved the country to virus alert level 3, from level 1, on Dec. 28 after a second wave of new Covid-19 infections. The restrictions included a ban on alcohol sales, the closing of beaches, and an extended curfew.

The curbs were last eased on Feb. 1, when Ramaphosa allowed liquor sales to resume with some limitations, and reopened beaches, parks and other public spaces.

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