Government has relaxed the Covid-19 lockdown regulations from Level 4 to Level 2 following a marked reduction in new coronavirus infections. The weekly average infections have gone down from 2 654 in the second week of August to the current 1 065 while the weekly average deaths have also decreased from 140 to 76.
The marked decline in cases and deaths has shown that Zimbabwe has been managing the pandemic in a commendable manner. With the relaxation of the lockdown announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday this week, we urge Zimbabweans to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of the virus as Covid-19 remains a threat. The risk of the pandemic is still a possibility in view of the recent discovery of a new virus variant by the World Health Organisation.
This requires responsible behaviour on the part of all the citizens, whether individuals, businesses or institutions. People must also continue to get vaccinated because vaccination is a vital additional prevention measure against the pandemic. In addition, people must continue to observe all the other recommended prevention measures such as washing hands with soap and running water or sanitising. Those without pressing business requiring them to travel should stay home to avoid unnecessary movements. Social distancing remains key and should be practiced at all times while avoiding crowds and gatherings must be strictly adhered to.
We wish to commend the Zimbabwe Republic Police for making it clear that even after the relaxation of the lockdown, they will still be enforcing the Level 2 measures announced by the President. The police will ensure compliance by the public through roadblocks, check points, surveillance and general patrols in the central business centres, residential areas and industrial areas.
The statement by the police makes it clear that business operators must cooperate with law enforcement agencies and stick to the stipulated operating times from 0800 hours to 1900 hours. People must continue to wear face masks, practice social distancing and hand washing or sanitisation when accessing services such as banks, supermarkets, health facilities and at restaurants.
Beerhalls, nightclubs and sports bars are required to remain closed and owners must heed the measure. Public gatherings must not exceed 100 people while business such as restaurants must ensure their sit-in clients produce their vaccination cards. Inter-city transport service providers, who have also been allowed to resume operations, must ensure passengers are sanitising their hands and wearing their masks when boarding their vehicles.
Sporting associations and organisations are expected to be equally responsible when conducting their activities with those in the high risk sector required to seek prior permission to hold training and matches as per the requirements of the relaxation announced by Government. Bars at hotels and lodges also have a huge responsibility on their shoulders not to degenerate into super spreader venues because they have been allowed to operate.
Government has said it will review the relaxation after two weeks and it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the relaxation is sustained because discipline among all of us coupled with vaccination as a preventive measure are the only ways of returning to normalcy. Discipline is the key in winning the fight against Covid-19 and getting all sectors of the economy to re-open again.