Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Reporter
An enhanced Level-Four national lockdown was imposed yesterday to combat the surge in Covid-19 infections, with the curfew extended from 6.30pm to 6am, business hours cut to between 8am and 3.30pm, 60 percent of staff to work from home and all intercity passenger traffic banned.
Announcing the new measures at State House in Harare yesterday, President Mnangagwa said the enhanced lockdown would be in force for two weeks pending review.
This follows a tightening of the previous lockdown a fortnight ago with a ban on social and religious gatherings, meetings and workshops, which all still apply, a cut in business hours now cut further and a rise in the number of people who have to work from home, now extended.
There will be compulsory testing and quarantining of travellers and returning residents from countries where the Alpha and Delta variants of Covid-19 are found.
In a new move, custodial sentences will now be imposed on those who either present fake test certificates or fake vaccination certificates.
Before, these were only an option and normally deposit fines were imposed rather than offenders being taken to court.
The new measures keep the bulk of the economy open, with more limited operating hours and more people to work from home, but almost all other activity is barred and movement at night is tightly restricted to the most essential services with the shortened business hours and now the new curfew of 11 hours 30 minutes basically covering the hours of winter darkness.
Standard protocols in all levels of lockdown of masking, social distancing, sanitising and temperature checking remain in place.
Last night, the daily report from the Ministry of Health and Child Care said there were 1 249 new cases reported yesterday with 12 deaths.
In his statement, the President said: “Following a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, and subsequent to the localised lockdown measures introduced in places such as Kwekwe, Karoi, Kariba and Chinhoyi, we are now stepping up our efforts by introducing the following additional enhanced level 4 lockdown measures:
1. Level 4 enhanced lockdown measures which take immediate effect, will run for a duration of two weeks, and will be reviewed thereafter;
2. Commerce and industry are to open from 08:00 to 1530 hours, in compliance with a general curfew running from 1830 hours to 0600 hours;
3. Industry to decongest workplaces to 40 percent of manning levels, with the rest of the workers working from home. All companies are directed to observe all the Covid-19 World Health Organisation protocols at the workplace;
4. Commercial transport is to remain operational to allow the economy to continue to run, but all people must observe Covid-19 protocols;
5. Intercity movements are prohibited, except for the production and distribution of food and medicines;
6. Travellers from countries with Alpha and Delta Covid-19 variants, will be quarantined and tested on 1st, 3rd, 5th and 10th days, at their own expense;
7. Those deported back to Zimbabwe will be subject to self-quarantine, or will be quarantined in identified places;
8. Travellers with fake Covid-19 documents will attract custodial sentences;
9. A Covid-19 vaccination blitz will be rolled out in the border towns and cities, tobacco auction floors, grain marketing depots, cotton marketing depots, major construction sites, people’s markets such as Renkini and Mbare, and all hotspots;
10. Ministers and Parliamentarians will be dispatched to their constituencies to disseminate information, especially on the vaccination programme.
“As we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, l call upon the whole nation to continue observing the WHO protocols, as well as to embrace the free vaccination programme that is availed by Government, to protect all our people.”
The vaccination programme, he said, was being stepped up.
With supplies now assured following the arrival of 500 000 more doses from China last week, the imminent arrival of another two million doses and regular supplies now assured, the already announced priority was for those in border towns, depots where farmers were delivering their huge harvests, the major people’s markets, construction sites and hotspots that have emerged to give as much protection as possible as quickly as possible.
By Monday, a total of 764 248 people had received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine while 534 906 people had been fully vaccinated.