THE current Level Four national lockdown lapses tomorrow with President Mnangagwa expected to announce new ordinances to balance the reopening of the economy and mitigating against further spread of Covid-19.
Since the current lockdown measures announced on February 15, the country has recorded a marked decrease in deaths and confirmed coronavirus cases, but observers warn that the country cannot afford to lower its guard as a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic remains a possibility.
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mr George Charamba yesterday said President Mnangagwa will update the nation before the expiry of the lockdown.
“He is very conscious about that,” Mr Charamba, who is also Presidential spokesperson, said.
On Friday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care unveiled new guidelines authorising ministers and heads of local authorities to give exemptions, where necessary, for the reopening of departments under their ambit.
The guidelines, which are contained in Statutory Instrument 49 of 2021, are an amendment to Statutory Instrument 200 of 2020.
Part of SI 49 reads: “. . . (d) every Government establishment, and every local authority, shall be closed except to the extent directed by — (i) the responsible head of the Ministry or head of that establishment; or (ii) the mayor or chairperson or chief executive officer of the local authority concerned”.
Explaining SI 49, Secretary for Justice, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Mrs Virginia Mabhiza said the nation remains bound by the lockdown regulations, but ministries and local authorities now have administrative powers to give exemptions.
“These are just administrative powers bound by the lockdown regulations, but with exceptions,” she said.
Business leaders said they were optimistic that the President’s address will come with eased lockdown measures to allow some operations to resume.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president, Mr Henry Ruzvidzo, said the current lockdown has resulted in market and supply chain disruptions for businesses.
“The rates of infection are indeed down and can be attributed to the swift action taken in January. Our expectation is that we learn from the experience of the past few months on the major sources of risk and take measured responses going forward. It is important to ensure that the economy can rebound recognising the country’s limited capacity to bail out businesses. We expect more businesses to be allowed to resume operations. It is important to ensure that the economy can rebound recognising the country’s limited capacity to bail out businesses,” he said.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers Association president, Mr Denford Mutashu, said there was a need to strike a critical balance.
“We need to up the tempo in the national vaccination exercise in our ongoing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. However, we need to strike a critical balance by ensuring we double efforts on intra-trade and open up the economy further. Borders must remain closed until at least 50 percent of the population is vaccinated,” he said.
The Government has been reviewing the lockdown restrictions periodically while imposing regulations to restrict unnecessary movement.
Covid-19 cases spiked in December last year, largely as a result of the festive season.
The rise in deaths saw the Government announcing a stringent Level Four lockdown.
Zimbabwe has recorded 1 458 deaths since the first coronavirus fatality was recorded in March last year.