Wearing masks in public places is legally required from today in terms of new public health regulations gazetted on Saturday and those who fail to wear them when they leave home can be arrested.
But the masks can be improvised in terms of the regulations.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said yesterday it was mandatory to wear masks.
He said masks could be anything from doeks to anything that could be used for purposes of being a barrier from the nose and mouth to the direct world.
“We also want to see and encourage small businesspeople coming up with their own businesses and making masks at home. We want the country to be able to be self-sustainable in terms of masks in the public,” he said.
Explaining the new requirement, the minister said: “Every time you leave home, you have to don that mask without fail because we want to reduce the infection. That is the whole purpose. We are doing it in two ways; staying indoors or you don’t go out. When you do go out you must reduce the chances of getting infected so you have to wear the mask.
“We are encouraging all the supermarkets or wherever in the industry to make sure that you do not serve people who do not wear masks. We don’t like a situation where supermarkets end up with hundreds of people inside so they have to control the people who come in,” said Dr Moyo.
Attorney-General Advocate Prince Machaya stressed yesterday that those who did not wear a mask in public places would be fined and could even be jailed.
Speaking to journalists at State House last night, Adv Machaya said: “Any person who will be found in any public place not wearing a face mask will be committing a crime and will be liable to pay a fine up to level 12 or to imprisonment to a period that does not exceed one year so it’s fairly serious. Members of the public should be aware that they need to have their masks on whenever they are in a public place so that they are not arrested for committing a crime.”
The maximum penalties are the same for all other lockdown offences, but all the roughly 20 000 people already arrested for lockdown offences have been released after paying steep admission of guilt fines.
With regards to testing of workers at private laboratories, Dr Moyo said the facilities would be charging a nominal fee that would be regulated by the Government.