South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that places of worship will be reopened on 1 June with strict guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Churches, mosques, temples and other recognised places of worship will be required to ensure worshippers keep their distance.

A maximum of 50 people will be allowed to attend depending on the size of the room or building.

All worshippers will be required to wear masks and sanitise their hands.

President Ramaphosa acknowledged the roles religious leaders play in the community, including counselling and prayers.

He said the pandemic had taken a toll on the religious well-being of many people hence the need to reopen places of worship as the country moves to what the government has labelled level three of easing lockdown restrictions.

The president announced a national prayer day to be held on 31 May.

Places of worship closed in March when the country went into lockdown. Some religious leaders have been streaming services online.

South Africa has so far recorded 24,264 cases of coronavirus – the highest number on the continent – and 524 people have sadly died as a result of having the virus.