The legal statutory instrument amending lockdown regulations by setting the 6pm to 6am curfew, with the list of permitted exemptions from operations or travel during curfew, and changing the permitted operating hours for non-essential, but exempted businesses was gazetted yesterday by Acting Minister of Health and Child Care Prof Amon Murwira.
In addition, the amendment to the regulations lays down the procedures exempted non-essential businesses must follow when someone tests positive to Covid-19.
They have to close, be disinfected and only reopen when all staff in the affected unit have been tested.
The definition of “wearing a face mask” in a public place now means that wearers must “securely” cover their noses and mouths with the mask.
Definition of essential services not subjected to the curfew, and their staff who can travel between work and home during curfew hours, has been amended for the purposes of the curfew order.
The curfew definition of essential services includes all services already defined as essential for other purposes with six deletions.
While the production, supply, delivery and distribution of food, fuel and coal is permitted during the curfew hours, supermarkets and food shops cannot operate during the curfew. Banks, bureaux de change and the like have to obey the curfew, except their security staff can work at night. Courts, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, public examinations and Parliament remain essential services for all other purposes, but have to obey the curfew.
But the amendment to the lockdown regulations adds mining and the operations of designated tobacco auction floors to the list of services that are exempted and can operate during the curfew.
Under the curfew all travel by those who are in non-essential services, in or out of vehicles, is prohibited during the curfew hours and they must stay at home. However, there are five categories of exemption from the movement ban, but the onus is on the person moving outside curfew hours to satisfy the officer enforcing the curfew.
People can break curfew to buy medicine, move to and from work if they are employed in the essential services, seek medical attention, go to the home of a relative who needs medical help, or if they are a member of staff of a foreign mission or agency and are going to that mission.
Besides the essential services and businesses, there are also exempted businesses. These remain the same with no change of definition and so can continue operating, but their hours have been shortened back to 8am to 3pm. This means all industrial and commercial businesses, including those in the informal sector that have been already exempted, can continue.
Supermarkets, food shops, fuel outlets, restaurants, and safari and hunting operations have, however, for the purposes of operating times been added to the list of non-essential businesses that can operate only between 8am and 3pm.
Some of these, especially restaurants and service stations, had been able to operate outside the previous restrictions on hours, but no longer.
Low risk sports and permitted gatherings are also subjected to the 8am to 3pm rule. The amended regulations now lay down the rules for what happens when a member of staff of a non-essential, but exempted business, which for this purpose now includes the food shops, restaurants, service stations and safari operations, tests positive or is confirmed to have died from Covid-19.
The relevant premises have to be closed and disinfected before re-opening and immediately before the reopening every other member of staff who could have been in contact with the affected member of staff must be tested.
In his address to the nation on Tuesday President Mnangagwa stressed that other lockdown regulations already in place, from unnecessary movement, wearing of face masks in public and social distancing to sanitising hands and screening everyone entering operating businesses and offices not only remain in place, but needed to be followed strictly.