Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa last night announced sweeping measures and bans to stop the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) which recorded its first death yesterday afternoon.
The measures include an immediate ban on gatherings around night clubs, bars, beerhalls, movie houses, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sporting activities until further notice.
With immediate effect, all the country’s borders have been closed for all non-essential travel for both in-bound and out-bound traffic.
Further, hospital visits have been reduced to one visit by one person per day, while public gatherings have been cut from 100 to 50.
Informal markets will remain open, but citizens are encouraged to limit their visits while health and security personnel will be deployed to enhance screening services.
With regards to mass transport, new measures will be announced shortly for the safety of commuters.
“To keep pace with the fast-changing national and global situation, Government has decided on the following additional measures, which take immediate effect.
“While our borders remain open to essential traffic, both in the interest of the economy and that of the corresponding economies of our region, we have decided to ban inessential travel and traffic, both in-bound and out-bound. Except for the movement of cargo, Government will close all our boarders to human traffic. This will not, however, affect returning residents.
“Screening on essential traffic will continue to be enforced strictly in line with the best practices and guidelines prescribed by the World Health Organisation.
“All our returning residents will be subjected to strict screening procedures including rigorous enforcement of the 21-day self-quarantine, which must not be breached for whatever reason,” said President Mnangagwa.
Until further notice, he said Government was discouraging unnecessary travel within the country including unnecessary movements beyond homes.
Said the President: “With immediate effect, Government has put a blanket ban on gatherings around night clubs, bars, beerhalls, movie houses, swimming pools, gymnasiums and sporting activities until further notice. I am aware that this curtailment of social activities will be hard on all of us. However, such tough measures have become necessary and unavoidable for our collective safety as a nation.
“With immediate effect, visits to hospitals and clinics will be reduced to one visit per day, even involving only one person per patient. With immediate effect, public gatherings may not exceed 50 persons. Such gatherings include religious fellowships, worship, weddings, conferences, workshops, meetings and funerals.”
President Mnangagwa said Government was encouraging automated electronic services to minimise human contact and interface particularly in dispensing essential services such as banking payment of bill utilities.
Where possible, the President said, employers were encouraged to reduce human concentrations at work places.
He said non-essential staff or essential staff whose services could be rendered from home should be encouraged by employers.
With regards to informal markets, President Mnangagwa said: “While Government will not, at this stage, close down informal markets, citizens are encouraged to limit their visits to such markets and in any case to reduce the numbers involved as well as frequencies to these markets. Health personnel, security personnel and other volunteer workers will be deployed in these markets to enhance screening services.”
He added that all transport operators are encouraged to comply with public health measures, which Government would be announcing shortly, all for the safety of commuters. These include screening on points of embarkation and occasional contamination operations targeting public vehicles and depots.
President Mnangagwa said companies in the business of manufacturing sanitary material such as sanitizers and masks among others should not take advantage of the current crisis to fleece the public.
He said where such actions would be observed, Government would not hesitate to take drastic measures.
“I am also aware of the concerns, which continue to be raised by our health personnel who are in the front line of this pandemic,” he said.
“These great men and women are the heroes and heroines of our nation. They continue to deliver services at great personal risk, they continue to save lives. They deserve our support, they deserve our unstinting praise and accolades. They must be rewarded. Above all, we should make their already risky medical chores both safer and less onerous.”