Government eased lockdown conditions

Government eased lockdown conditions
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa addresses journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing at Munhumutapa Building in Harare yesterday. 

GOVERNMENT has eased the dusk to dawn curfew that was imposed as part of the Covid-19 national lockdown to help lessen the risk of the public contracting the pandemic.

Last month, the Government imposed a 6pm to 6am curfew as part of its efforts to contain spread of the pandemic in the country.

At the same time, returning residents can go home as soon as they have a negative PCR test and promise to self-quarantine for 21 days.

Announcing the changes approved by Cabinet yesterday, Information, Broadcasting and Publicity Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the changes were made “having noted the plight of the public and the need to lessen the risk of contracting Covid-19”.

Businesses and their customers had been complaining that the restriction of operating hours for exempted businesses and the retail end of many essential services had resulted in crowding outside the business premises. Industrial businesses in non-essential areas also needed more time to meet orders.

“Having noted the plight of the public and the need to lessen the risk of contracting COVID-19, Cabinet directed as follows, that the business hours which were ending at 15:00 hours be revisited to end at 1630 hours and the curfew to be extended to 2000 hours,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

There was an outcry from the commuting public on the duration of the curfew since 21 July 2020, when President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed a curfew and reinstated strict measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus following a spike in cases.

People were complaining that the curfew brought with it transport challenges because ZUPCO buses were overwhelmed and this resulted in some people failing to get transport back home before the start of the curfew.

The Minister also announced that public transport drivers will now need to undergo a regular COVID-19 PCR tests and all public transport buses be allowed a dedicated lane at roadblocks to expedite their passage.

Cabinet also eased quarantine requirements for Zimbabwean returnees who meet newly set criteria spelt out yesterday.

“Cabinet has further directed that immigrants who are PCR negative on arrival will no longer be detained, but be put on home quarantine and reviews will be conducted by the Rapid Response Teams in that locality. Those who test positive on arrival will be placed in isolation centres,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Minister Mutsvangwa also assured the public  that measures are being put in place to ensure that health workers return to work, as the success of implementing the COVID-19 response hinges on the availability of health staff.

She further said that acquisition of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) for health workers and front liners is being prioritized.

Zimbabwe embarked on a national lockdown on 30 March 2020, to curb the spread of the COVID-19 disease. However, the lockdown conditions have been periodically reviewed based on the increase of COVID-19 cases in the country.