PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has imposed a dusk to dawn national curfew as Government takes urgent and decisive measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 cases that are rising rapidly.
As of yesterday morning, the country had recorded 1 713 cases, a jump from 985 the previous week.
The country’s death toll is now 26 and for the first time the country has recorded more local transmissions than imported ones.
Local transmissions stand at 872 while imported cases are at 841 with most of the local cases being reported at workplaces.
Bulawayo which has the highest number of infections, has become the country’s Covid-19 hotspot, a development which has seen health authorities appealing to residents to strictly adhere to lockdown regulations meant to curb the spread of the pandemic.
President Mnangagwa said in view of the change in trajectory of Covid-19 cases, citizens need to know that the pandemic is no longer a problem beyond borders but within communities.
He said the situation is exacerbated by the fact that South Africa now ranks fifth globally among countries worst affected by Covid-19 and due to the two countries close relations, this would have a knock-on effect on Zimbabwe.
In a televised national address last night at State House, President Mnangagwa said his Government is compelled to implement measures to protect citizens from the ever-increasing threat posed by Covid-19.
He said the country needs to suspend some of the liberties that citizens have been accustomed to, to effectively fight the global pandemic.
“Accordingly, Government has decided on the following measures which take full effect from tomorrow, Wednesday 22 July 2020, until further review and notice: All non-working sections of our population will be required to stay at home; except for purposes of securing food, water and health services.
“Where travel and social contact becomes essential and inevitable, every Zimbabwean should and must uphold the four requirements set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which are: a) wearing masks or equivalent protective materials; b) observing strict standards of hygiene, including the washing of hands or use of sanitisers; c) mandatory screening in all public places and buildings and social distancing in all public places and at all times,” said the President.
He said with effect from today, all business premises must operate from 8am until 3pm with the exception of providers of essential services.
“As of tomorrow Wednesday 22 July 2020, all our security services must enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew set to come into force daily between 6pm and 6am. Only essential services are exempt from this curfew,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said public gathering for religious and political reasons are banned while funeral ones will be curtailed.
It is now a criminal offence for people to abscond from quarantine facilities or knowingly expose others to Covid-19.
“Desertion from places of quarantine by returnees and infected persons, resulting in the exposure of innocent lives to the virus will be considered a criminal act and invite very robust response from our law and public health-enforcement arms. Anyone who knowingly exposes, aids, abets, or infects innocent persons, whether by breaching conditions of isolation or by encouraging actions which undermine public health measures which Government has announced or undertaken, will be liable, and severely punished accordingly,” said President Mnangagwa.
The President said intercity, urban and rural travelling remain banned for non-essential travellers.
Only the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company will provide public transport for necessary travelling and private public transport providers remain banned.
“All approved buses and vehicles for public transport should ensure and enforce public health standards, including the screening of passengers before boarding, and the disinfecting of all public vehicles after each round trip,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said business premises should follow outlined WHO guidelines such as wearing of face masks, sanitisation of hands and temperature checks.
“Only registered Small and Medium Enterprises which have been allocated workspaces will be allowed to operate, and must comply with the parameters and protocols set by the WHO. Our food markets will remain open and operational, and must observe set measures, rules and requirements meant to uphold public health. Suppliers to markets should be facilitated to reach the markets, including by our security forces,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said Government will do all within its powers to ensure the new measures are enforced.
“These urgent and necessary measures will entail curtailing the freedoms we have always enjoyed, and had grown accustomed to. From now on, these freedoms stand suspended and deferred, in the interest of all of us; indeed, in the interest of our children and our nation which must survive, thrive and prosper beyond this pandemic. No responsible Government places its citizens in harm’s way hence my Government will do all it can to preserve and protect the right to life,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said only in unity the country can fight and conquer the devastating effects of Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa said he would be reviewing the lockdown measures at the necessary time.
“These measures are being taken for our collective safety. As Zimbabweans, we have to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic. We must minimise loss of lives. I, as your President, will come back to you to announce the easing of these public health measures once the situation has improved. Let all of us, for now, unreservedly comply with these measures.
“Together in unity, love and a shared sense of responsibility, we shall overcome and save ourselves, our families and our nation,” said President Mnangagwa.