THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has said the relaxation of restrictions under the Covid-19 level 2 lockdown regulations will allow business to sustain gains that had been achieved under the previous measures.
This comes as President Mnangagwa, in a State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the Covid-19 pandemic response yesterday, reviewed the lockdown to level 2, from level 4, allowing more time for business to operate.
Mrs Sekai Kuvarika, the CZI chief executive officer, told Finance &Business that the previous limited trading hours had started to take a toll on businesses.
“This development is welcomed by industry, as businesses had started to show signs of stress due to Covid-19 induced (shorter) trading hours,” she said.
According to the new level 2 regulations, businesses are now allowed to operate from 8am to 7pm, while the curfew period will run from 10pm to 5:30pm.
President Mnangagwa also allowed restaurants and bars within hotels and lodges to operate from 10am to 10pm while bottle stores are to open between 10am and 4pm.
Intercity travel is now permitted in strict adherence to Covid-19 health measures while public gatherings will not exceed 100 people. Low-risk sports will resume from 8am to 4pm and high and medium-risk sporting activities are to seek approval.
According to Mrs Kuvarika, most businesses have made progress on the vaccination programmes for their employees as a commitment to be allowed more operating hours.
“Most companies have vaccinated over 80 percent of their employees in anticipation of increasing production time,” she said.
While the Government has been on the forefront of raising funds, and rolling out of the vaccination programme, the business also committed to assist through vaccination programs for their employees.
The sector, which employs approximately 350 000 people, has emphasised the power of collaborative efforts in minimising the negative impact of Covid-19 on the economy.
Globally, the private sector has been actively involved, not only in the procurement of the vaccines but in funding research aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic.
According to President Mnangagwa, the last two weeks has seen the country recording a further marked reduction in new Covid-19 cases from a weekly average of 2564 in the second week of August 2021 to the current of 1065.
In addition, the weekly average of deaths has decreased from 140 to a weekly average of 76.
“The marked decline in cases and deaths is a clear demonstration that the government’s careful implementation of Public Health and Social Measures including lockdowns, in collaboration with all sectors, is paying off,” he said.
President Mnangagwa noted that the lockdown relaxation will be reviewed in two weeks.
He emphasised that, in the meantime, the Government recognises that the threat of the pandemic still exists, especially in view of the recent identification of new virus variants by the World Health Organisation; as a result, the nation must therefore remain vigilant.