President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday night declared a national 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. The virus has infected over 600 000 worldwide, killing over 30 000.
He ordered people only to leave their homes under a list of “very limited purposes”, banned public gatherings of more than 50 people and ordered the closure of non-essential shops.
Addressing the nation on coronavirus at State House in Harare yesterday evening , he said the lockdown cannot be avoided urging people to practice good hygiene.
“This 21-day lockdown is not a punishment; it cannot be avoided. We have 21 days right now to save thousands of lives. And how will we save those thousands of lives? By acting responsibly, and by staying at home. By washing your hands and by keeping at least two metres distance from one another,” he said.
Every citizen must comply with these new measures and the relevant authorities, including the police, have been given the powers to enforce them through fines and dispersing gatherings.
These measures were with effect from Monday the 30th of March 2020. The Government will look again at these measures after three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.
What are the rules?
President Mnangagwa has said one will only be able to leave his/her house for one of the three reasons:
1. Shopping for necessities
2. Medical need or providing care
3. Travelling to or from work (if you can’t work from home).
What it means is only those with exemptions such as medical institutions, power utilities, telecommunications, waterworks, security services, grocery supermarkets, manufactures of foodstuffs, millers, pharmacies, service stations, accredited media houses, funeral parlours, and city council officials will be exempt from the lockdown.
During the weekend, supermarkets across the country witnessed panic buying as shoppers stocked up basic goods, with some introducing rationing on grocery products.
The Government has made assurances that shops will remain fully stocked and supermarkets would be obliged to tell relevant authorities about any supply chain issues.
If people must leave their homes to purchase food, they should limit social contact with other people, the Government said.
Public transportation has been banned during the lockdown period except for ZUPCO and public service buses.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing is staying two metres away from anybody you do not live with.
The Government has set out measures you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus.
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible.
- Work from home, where possible.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut down as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
- Use telephone or online platforms for other essential services.
Anybody with coronavirus symptoms – a new, persistent cough or a fever – should self-isolate.
Those living alone should do so for seven days, but those living with others should self-isolate as a household for 14 days.
Where possible – this should mean not leaving the home at all, and getting groceries delivered to the property.