Gabon said Monday it was relaxing a two-week-old coronavirus lockdown in the capital Libreville and three neighbouring areas.
With three deaths and 176 cases among its two-million population, half of whom live in the capital, Prime Minister Julien Nkoghe Bekale said some restrictions would be scaled back.
Some shops and hair salons would be allowed to reopen, he said, but travel beyond the city and its environs would remain prohibited to avoid contagion to other provinces.
"We are approaching the peak of the epidemic, which could come between the end of May and mid-June," Bekale said.
Schools, restaurants and places of worship will remain closed, wearing masks will be compulsory and a curfew will remain in place from 6.00 pm to 6.00 am.
Borders are also closed -- a source of concern for Gabonese as the country imports the bulk of its foodstuffs.
Bekale said the partial lifting of the lockdown took into account concern over potential "social destabilisation" if people could not earn a living.