South Africa closes bars at night to battle coronavirus

South Africa ordered bars and restaurants to close at night and limit the number of patrons to 50 people during the day as it ratcheted up its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The government, which has already shut most international flight routes and closed schools, issued the order on Wednesday. Bars and restaurants that sell liquor must remain closed from 6 p.m to 9 a.m., it said.

The order from Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, comes after president Cyril Ramaphosa on April 15 declared a national state of disaster.

While South Africa’s number of confirmed cases – at 116 – is lower than many countries, the number is rising fast.

With an economy already battered by electricity outages and indebted state companies, South Africa has been hit hard by the impact of the global pandemic. Ramaphosa’s swift response has drawn praise from opposition parties and medical professionals.

In Johannesburg, the country’s biggest city, many people are already working from home, and bars and restaurants have emptied since Ramaphosa’s speech.

Read: New regulations threaten fines or jail time for coronavirus fake news, infecting others, or selling alcohol after 18h00

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South Africa closes bars at night to battle coronavirus