By Moses Mugugunyeki/Lorraine Muromo
PRIVATE medical players and retailers have welcomed the government’s decision to relax the COVID-19 lockdown from level four to level two.
In June, the country experienced a COVID-19 third wave, forcing the government to impose a lockdown that saw schools, colleges and churches being closed.
However, on Tuesday, the government allowed businesses to operate from 8am to 7pm, while intercity travel was given the green light to resume as new COVID-19 infections continue to fall. Public gatherings of up to 100 people will now be allowed.
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Zimbabwe Association (MDPPZA) president Johannes Marisa said the decision was a good move.
MDPPZA is an inclusive body that includes nurses, medical doctors, dental therapists, dentists and laboratory scientists, among others.
“This is the best time to relax the COVID-19 because the cases are going down. It’s noble to open up business and allow the economy to resume operations,” Marisa said.
He, however, warned that people should not violate public health guidelines.
“When cases go down, it does not mean we are out of the woods. We need to keep our heads above the water as we might face another wave of the pandemic considering a new variant was identified in South Africa,” Marisa said.
Retailers have also welcomed the extension of business operating hours saying that will help them recover from losses accumulated since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the latest relaxation, CZR (Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers) urges business and the general public to strictly adhere to the measures,” CZR president Denford Mutashu said in a statement.
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation director Samuel Wadzai also applauded the move by the government to relax the restrictions, saying it was an opportunity for informal traders to go back to business.
“We welcome this move by the government. It was long overdue, we need more time to be able to operate and given these new measures, traders are able to work,” Wadzai said.
“We lost a lot of revenue during this period, so it is an opportunity for informal traders to go back and work and support their livelihoods.”
Residents have also welcomed the move to allow private medical players to vaccinate.
“This is a move in the right direction. Some of us could not endure those long queues at vaccination points at public health institutions,” Sharon Dube from Kuwadzana 7, Harare, said.
Dube said people were waking up as early as 3am to join the queues to get vaccinated at public health centres.
Marisa urged people to take advantage of the relaxation of the lockdown to get vaccinated.
Last month, the government announced that it was taking on board the private sector to augment the COVID-19 vaccination rollout, especially in hotspots across the country.
The vaccination exercise, which began in February, had been the prerogative of public health institutions.