In case you haven’t been paying attention, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging out there. Recently Zimbabwe has seen a spike in cases which prompted two localised lockdowns. One in Kwekwe and one in Hwange. The former was mainly meant to nip the Indian variant in the bud but the later was announced to curb a surge in cases in northern Zimbabwe. Following this the minister of health, who doubles as the vice president, announced a national soft lockdown.
What the new measures mean?
- The government will be more strict in terms of enforcing the following measures that were already in place:
- mandatory wearing of masks in public places.
- maintaining social and physical distancing
- washing or sanitising your hands frequently
- The has said it will strengthen testing, quarantine and contact tracing. This is the first time I have heard the government make such a commitment.
- You must wear your mask when in public places, in public transport. Transporters must only carry the authorised number of passengers. Temperature to be checked when passengers are boarding and hands to be sanitised. Buses had stopped doing most of these things.
- With regards to gatherings, the following measures are to be implemented:
- – All gatherings except funerals are banned. These gatherings include but are not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals and sports activities.
- – Funerals shall be limited to 30 people. All Covid 19 funerals will be supervised by health personnel.
- – All workshops and meetings are to be held virtually. In addition, all offices, both government and private, are to decongest by 50% (except for offices connected with essential services)
- With regards to retail businesses and shops, their operating hours shall be from 0800 hours to 1800 hours.
- Shops to make sure there is social distancing by customers and that people are wearing masks inside
- Beer halls and nightclubs will remain closed whilst bottle stores will operate from 1000 hours – 1600 hours. Operators should ensure that there is no drinking in and around their premises. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in the withdrawal of business licenses.
- Hotel and lodge bars and restaurants are open to their residents up to 2200 hours. All other restaurants and fast foods outlets will serve takeaways only.
- People’s market places such as but not limited to Mbare, Renkin, Mupedzanhamo, Sakubva, Machipisa and others, shall close at 1800 hours.
- The operators shall ensure strict adherence to preventive measures such as the proper wearing of face masks, sanitizing, social distancing and temperature checks of their clients. Non-compliance will result in the closure of that market.
- Health inspectors and other law enforcement agents will move around and monitor compliance with these measures. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in the withdrawal of the business licenses.
- At tobacco auction floors, the owners must ensure strict adherence to preventive measures such as the proper wearing of face masks, temperature checks and sanitizing of clients and maintaining physical distancing.
- Each consignment of tobacco bales to be accompanied by at most 2 people into the auction floor. Targeted vaccination of tobacco farmers and their workers will be available.
- Tobacco auction floor employees are required to have a negative COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test which will be valid for 2 weeks. Vending within and around the tobacco floors is prohibited.
- At all ports of entry, there shall be strict enforcement of the 48-hour old PCR negative certificate requirement and mandatory testing of all travellers from hot spots at their expense regardless of their negative PCR certificates.
- There shall be quarantining of those coming from hot spots in designated quarantine centres at their own expense. Those who present with fake COVID-19 negative certificates shall be arrested and prosecuted.
- With regards to the management of local hot spots, the following measures shall be implemented:
- a) There will be daily national updates of hot spots as part of the daily COVID-19 situational report
- b) The public is being advised not to travel to these hot spots areas
- c) There will be increased testing and contact tracing within the hot spot areas.
- d) Vaccinations and health education will be intensified in the hot spots areas.
- e) If the above measures fail to control the hot spot areas, targeted lockdowns will be affected in those areas.
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