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COVID-19: Zimbabwe begins 21-day lockdown

by Staff reporter
30 Mar 2020 at 08:33hrs | Views
Zimbabwe begins its 21-day lockdown today as it tries to curb the spread of Covid-19 in a country, which has limited testing capabilities.  The latest update from the Ministry of Health and Child Care shows that the country has to date recorded seven positive tests and one death from 194 cases. Over 1 000 people are currently under monitoring.

According to further clarifications provided by Presidential Spokesman George Charamba through social media over the weekend, Government had left it to employers across sectors to regulate workplaces in line with guidelines from the Health department.

According to Charamba, Government has not interfered with the running of productive enterprise: "Lockdown does not mean shutdown of all productive activity." As a result, many businesses are allowed to open during this period although only ZUPCO and Public Service Commission buses would be allowed to operate under strict social distancing measures. Private vehicles shall not carry more than two persons without a valid reason. The lockdown measure is expected to be reviewed depending on how the situation unfolds.

Worryingly however, is the impact that the global pandemic will have on an already struggling economy. Zimbabwe is expected to suffer a triple hit: a collapse in revenue and a need to ramp up spending both on emergency health measures and to counter the economic impact of lockdown measures as well as an underlying condition of rising inflation. The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development has indicated that it is working on some fiscal measures.

The International Monetary Fund has advised African governments to temporarily abandon fiscal austerity.

"Even with constrained fiscal space, the right thing to do is to expand fiscal deficits to counter the immediate impact of the shock," according to Abebe Selassie, director of IMF's Africa department.

The IMF has set aside US$50 billion as an emergency response fund but Zimbabwe does not qualify as it still hasn't settled outstanding arrears to the World Bank and African Development Bank. The African Development Bank on Friday said it had placed a $3bn three-year "Fight Covid-19" social bond carrying a 0.75% coupon.

Exemptions to the lockdown

-The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange will continue trading, but on shortened trading hours. It will however be closed to outside visitors.

--Food outlets – retail and wholesale shops for food and essential products although they will operate from 0900 – 1500hrs

-All farms – Individuals and institutionalized will function as long as they adhere to the intention and spirit of the lockdown.

-Coal mining forms will remain open since operations relate to generation of electricity. Other mining companies to apply for exemptions through respective representative bodies.

-Essential service providers, producers in electricity, water supply, sewage and sanitation, fuel, LP gas supply and ICT shall remain operational.

-Delta and Schweppes to operate minimum but adequate staff after they were designated essential service company.

-Manufacturing and distribution of health related products, supplies, devices, equipment and medicines as well as essential inputs thereto.

-Agricultural and food supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phytosanitary service providers, pest control services, chemical and fertilizer production and distribution.

-Food, beverages, poultry and dairy products including manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities for the value chain.

-Manufacturing and Importation of basic commodities.

-Manufacturing, processing and distribution of sanitisation products including soaps, detergents, disinfectants and sanitisers.

-Production and distribution of sanitary products including sanitary pads, cotton wool, tissues etc.

-Warehousing, transport and logistics for food & essential products, and health related goods.

-Production of packaging products that are critical in the movement and distribution of the above goods.

-Essential products include toilet paper, cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, personal hygiene products, bedding and clothing, and essential supplies for those taking care of the sick and to maintain the public's well-being.

-All activities for exporters of manufactured goods and horticultural produce.

-Funeral Parlours and support services

-All healthcare related services be they public or private.

- Professional and artisan services, to the extent that they are providing support in the Covid19 response, essential and critical business continuity services.

-Cleaning, laundry and hospitality services supporting the Covid19 response.

- Hotels, airlines, stadiums, car rental services, to the extent that they are supporting the Covid-19 Response. The Cresta group of hotels and African Sun have already given notice of temporary closure of their respective hotels.

-Financial and insurance services and health funders required to finance and support essential and critical business continuity services in the Covid-19 response, and provide short term bridging finance to people and businesses during this period.

-Communication and media services on screen, TV, radio, print, broadcast and online.

-Safety and security services protecting people and property.

Covid-19 response accompanying legislation

- In line with pronunciations by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Government has legalised the return of the multicurrency system through Statutory Instrument 85 of 2020 in an Extraordinary Government Gazette to allow citizens more flexibility in paying for goods and services even though in formal shops the exchange rate is to be maintained at $25.

-Government gazetted SI83 of 2020, which gives legal effect to the lockdown under the Public Health (COVID-19) Prevention, Containment and Treatment (national lockdown) order, 2020. Key highlights under the instrument include:

    Any person who publishes or communicates false news about the lockdown will be liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen ($120 000) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding twenty years or both.
    Any person taking advantage of the national lockdown to profiteer, or raise prices of goods or services or rents, shall be subject to the penalties prescribed by law for contravention of the appropriate statutory provisions.
    No person shall, at his or her home or in any other premises or location, hoard medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19. And No person shall, at his or her home or in any other premises or location, hoard food in excess of what is needed to be stored for himself or herself and his or her family during the period of the national lockdown. (Those caught will be liable to a fine of $36 000)
    By written order addressed to any local authority the Minister may require such local authority to set aside and make available during the period of national lockdown any land or premises adequate for the quarantine or isolations of more than fifty (50) persons at a time who are infected with or suspected of being infected with COVID-19.

Source - finx

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