By Munyaradzi Musiiwa
Zimbabwe has with immediate effect reviewed its lockdown measures in the face of rising Covid-19 cases imposing a stringent regime resulting in gatherings such as weddings and churches banned for 30 days.
Also affected by the ban are bars, bottle stores, gyms and restaurants for the same period.
Formal and non-formal businesses will be suspended from Tuesday while essential services such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets are to remain open, with only essential staff allowed to go to work. Pharmacies and supermarkets will be operating from 8am to 3pm.
The new lockdown measures were announced by Vice-President General (Retired) Dr Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Minister of Health and Child Care, yesterday.
VP Chiwenga said the essential services will operate from 8am to 3pm while the curfew has been increased to between 6am to 6pm.
“Fellow Zimbabweans, we have seen a surge in Covid-19 cases during this festive season with 1 342 Covid-19 cases and 29 deaths being recorded in a week representing the highest number recorded so far. We have seen the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths almost double in two months from 8 374 on 1 November to 14 084 to date.
The cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe as of 1 January 2021 is now 14 084 cases and 369 deaths. In view of the surge in Covid-19 cases the Government has intensified testing and patient care throughout all the provinces. In light of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases stiff lockdown measures are being put in place with immediate effect,” he said.
Said VP Chiwenga: “Gatherings are reduced to not more than 30 people at all funerals. All other gatherings: weddings, churches, bars, bottle stores, gymnasiums, restaurants and others are banned for 30 days.
The existing Covid-19 preventive health measures will be strictly enforced, that is to say correct wearing of face masks, social distancing, hand sanitisation and temperature checks will be strictly enforced and offenders will be prosecuted. Only essential services are to remain open such as hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets, with only essential staff allowed to come to work.
These services can only open at 8am and must close at 3pm and will be subject to curfew that will start at 6pm and end at 6am.
Of the other commercial services only Part 4 lockdown order services such as mining, manufacturing and agriculture will operate as before. Other commercial services specified on Part 5 of the lockdown order that is to say all formal businesses and registered informal traders are suspended from Tuesday 5 January 2021 for 30 days.”
VP Chiwenga said inter-provincial and inter-city transport services are restricted only to essential services and Part 4 commercial services while cross-boarder trading has been suspended.
He said air transportation will remain unhindered with arrivals and returning residents being required to present Covid-19 free certificates.
“People must stay at home save for buying food and medicines or transporting sick relatives. Other exceptions are as specified in the lockdown order. As for schooling only examination classes are to open now. Cross-border traders are stopped forthwith save for commercial and transit cargo related to essential and critical services.
Air transportation remains unhindered and will continue as before with arrivals and returning residents being required to present Covid-19 free certificates.
“As for land access only returning residents and essential service drivers will be admitted subject to presentation of Covid-19 free certificates. These certificates must have been issued at least 48 hours before departure. Just to be clear, restaurants, bottle stores and bars are closed for 30 days except for bars and restaurants serving hotel residents.
Also, tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to the usual health precautions,” he said. The Sunday News