A policeman washes his hands as he enters a sanitizing booth during a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a court in Harare. Picture: Reuters
A policeman washes his hands as he enters a sanitizing booth during a nationwide lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a court in Harare. Picture: Reuters

Zimbabwe extends national lockdown, to continue on level 2

By Xinhua and Reuters Time of article published May 16, 2020

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Harare - Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday extended the Covid-19 national lockdown indefinitely. 

The country imposed a total lockdown to curb the spread of the virus on March 30, and on May 1 the president relaxed the restrictive measures to allow industry and commerce to reopen under supervision. 

In an address to the nation on Saturday, Mnangagwa said the country will continue on level 2 lockdown to enable the country to further strengthen its response to the pandemic. "We shall have regular two-week interval reviews to assess progress or lack of it," he said. 

Under level 2 lockdown, industry and commerce have been allowed to reopen under supervision while the informal sector remains closed. Inter-city travel remains banned, as well as public gatherings of more than 50 people. 

Mnangagwa said informal street markets will remain shut while the government consults health specialists on how to reopen them safely.

Businesses such as manufacturers, supermarkets and banks, which have been allowed to continue operating, will now be able to work between 8am and 4.30pm compared with the six-hour day imposed previously.

Shared taxis will remain banned, forcing commuters to use buses operated by the state, which have struggled to cope with demand.

Mnangagwa said the hundreds of Zimbabwean migrants returning home every week, mainly from South Africa and Botswana, will have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in school and college buildings set aside for the purpose.

The president said only students writing final examinations this year would be allowed to resume classes but did not say when. The government is still working on plans of phased re-opening of schools. 

Those in public places are required to wear face masks at all times.

Zimbabwe has to date recorded 42 confirmed cases of Covid-19, including 13 recoveries and four deaths. 

"Zimbabwe will therefore continue on the level 2 lockdown for an indefinite period. This should give us more time to strengthen the prevention and case management approaches on various risk populations.

"The modified phase reopening strategy will further allow us to increase surveillance including early detection, testing, isolation, contact tracing, treatment and care with a focus on high risk populations," he said. 

Mnangagwa said said social and physical distancing will continue to be maintained and enforced at all times. "I appeal to our people to exercise grater self discipline in this regard," he said. 

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