By Farirai Machivenyika
Government has gazetted provisions that extend indefinitely the Level 2 national lockdown and other relaxation measures announced by President Mnangagwa on Saturday.
The new measures are contained in Statutory Instrument 110/2020 published on Sunday.
According to Section 4 of SI 110 of 2020, the lockdown will continue indefinitely, but will be subject to a fortnightly review from May 31 onwards.
Public examinations in schools, colleges, universities or other tertiary education institutions were declared an essential service, but would be conducted in compliance with circulars to be issued by responsible ministries.
Outdoor exercises like walking or jogging or cycling along public thoroughfares, in public parks or open spaces, or at sporting or recreational establishments are now allowed under the new provisions.
Athletes taking part in low-risk sports, including their associated staff and up to 50 spectators are now exempted from the restrictions of the national lockdown.
These low-risk sports include archery, swimming, athletics, rowing, cycling, equestrian events, fencing, golf, gymnastics, motor sports/BMX, shooting, tennis, chess, darts, draughts and pool.
However, the SI sets out strict rules that have to be observed including that no liquor shall be served or offered for sale while venues must not open earlier than 8am and shut no later than 4:30pm.
The SI also extended opening times for commercial businesses and industries allowed to operate from between 8am and 3pm to between 8am and 4:30pm.
In his address on Saturday, the President said Government was satisfied with the positive impact of the lockdown, as initial estimates had indicated that the country would have 1 000 cases by the end of April, but this had not been the case.
“Government notes with satisfaction the continued positive impact of the lockdown measures our country has implemented since March 30, 2020, to date. Initial estimates indicated that by April 29, 2020, Zimbabwe would have about 1 000 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
“Our country, therefore, undertook an intensive surveillance and case finding approach. This entailed testing all hospitalised patients for Covid-19, individuals presenting with fever and influenza-like illnesses as well as contact tracing. Based on the modelling, the country needed to test 33 340 in order to identify the estimated 1 000 cases. However, as at May 18, 2020, 42 confirmed cases have been identified out of the PCR and RDT tests done.”
President Mnangagwa said according to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, Zimbabwe has a “reduced Covid-19 trajectory”. The new measures had, thus, been put in place to ensure Zimbabwe consolidated the gains made to date.
“We must, thus, continue to minimise the risk of sudden spikes in the number of cases. To this end, it is imperative that we keep the pandemic curve flat to prevent the loss of life and devastating effects on the socio-economic environment of our country,” he said.