(Last Updated on January 2, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
HARARE – The government has announced the tightening of lockdown regulations with immediate effect following a recent spike of Covid-19 infections which has seen cases almost double in a space of two months.
Vice President and Health Minister Constantino Chiwenga announced the decision by the government on Saturday evening during a press conference in Harare.
“We have seen a surge in Covid -19 cases during this festive season with 1342 cases and 29 deaths being recorded in a week, representing the highest recorded so far.
“We have seen a number of Covid-19 cases and deaths almost double in 2 months from 8374 on 1 November to 14084 to date. The cumulative number of Covid cases in Zimbabwe as of 1 January 2021 is now 14084 cases and 369 deaths.
“In view of this surge in Covid-19 cases, the government has intensified testing and patient care throughout all provinces. In light of the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the following stiff lockdown measures are being put in place with immediate effect:
•gatherings are reduced to not more than 30 people at all funerals
•all other gatherings at weddings, churches, bars, bottle stores, gymnasiums, restaurants, etc are banned for 30 days
• the existing Covid-19 preventive health measures will be strictly enforced, that is to say, the 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 8 am and must close at 3 pm and will be subject to a curfew that will start at 6 pm and end at 6 am
•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 in 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
•inter-provincial and inter-city transport services are restricted only to essential services and part 4 commercial services
•people must stay at home, save for buying food and medicine or transporting sick relatives, other exceptions are 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 transport remains unhindered and will continue as before with arrivals and returning residents being required to present Covid-19 free certificate. As for land access, only returning residents and essential drivers will be admitted subject to presentation of Covid-19 free certificate. These certificates must have been issued at least 48hours before departure
•restuarants, bottle stores and bars are closed for 30 days except for bars and restaurants serving hotel restaurants. Also, tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to the usual health precautions.
Citizens had recently started calling for the government to tighten the restrictions following the spike in both new cases and deaths in the country, arguing that public laxity was partly responsible.
People have been sharing pictures of large gatherings which have been happening in violation of the restrictions especially during the festive season, notable there has been an outcry over the Mbare bash hosted on New Year’s Eve.
The country’s health facilities have been overwhelmed by the situation with reports that there was a shortage of ventilators in some areas including Harare.
Globally, there has been a call for enforcing restrictions as cases continue to rise with reports of a new strain of the virus.
Earlier this week, South Africa also tightened its measures after the country breached the one million cases mark.