GOVERNMENT has — with effect from tomorrow — banned all gatherings, except funerals, in new Covid-19 containment measures aimed at curtailing a possible third wave of the pandemic.
Announcing the new regulations at a Press Conference in Harare yesterday, Vice President and Health and Child Care Minister, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, said last week Zimbabwe recorded 596 new cases and 26 deaths, a figure authorities believe was a consequence of complacency in communities and at workplaces.
“All gatherings except funerals are banned. These gatherings include, but not limited to weddings, church gatherings, music festivals and sports activities,” VP Chiwenga said, adding that funerals shall be limited to 30 people.
Companies have been directed to de-congest their premises by 50 percent, while workshops have been banned.
“All workshops and meetings are to be held virtually. In addition, all offices — both Government and private — are to de-congest by 50 percent (except for offices connected with essential services).”
Under the new measures, restaurants are no longer permitted to sell food to sit-in customers save for those appended to hotels and lodges.
“Beerhalls and night clubs will remain closed whilst bottle stores will operate from 10:00 hours to 16:00 hours. Operators should ensure that there is no drinking in and around their premises. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in withdrawal of business licenses,” said VP Chiwenga.
The ongoing tobacco marketing season will see adjustments in operations as each consignment of tobacco bales is now required to be accompanied by a maximum of two people.
Tobacco farmers and auction floor workers are to be given priority in the ongoing vaccination programme.
“With regards to retail businesses and shops, their operating hours shall be from 0800 hours to 1800 hours. It is expected that the operators ensure that there is strict adherence to preventive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, sanitising and temperature checks of clients. They should also ensure that they limit the number of clients in their shops to maintain physical distancing,” VP Chiwenga said.
Health inspectors and law officers will be on high alert in the coming weeks to ensure adherence to the measures, while travellers will be strictly vetted.
“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,” said the VP.
Those travelling from foreign territories will need to produce 48-hour-old negative PCR results and travellers coming from hotspots will be subjected to a test upon arrival.
On public transport, VP Chiwenga implored operators to adhere to recommended passenger numbers.
“They should ensure that all passengers are wearing their facemasks properly. On boarding, they must have their temperature checked and their hands sanitised. Public transport operators shall disinfect their vehicles after every trip,” he said, adding that though painful, the new measures are temporary to save lives in the wake of a possible third wave.
Popular market places such as Mbare Msika in Harare face closure if they do not abide by Covid-19 preventative measures.
“With regards to people’s market places such as but not limited to Mbare, Renkini, Mupedzanhamo, Sakubva, Machipisa and others, they shall close at 1800hrs. The operators shall ensure strict adherence to preventitive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, sanitising, social distancing and temperature checks of their clients. Non-compliance will result in closure of that market,” said VP Chiwenga.