ED relaxes lockdown measures
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday announced that the country will continue on level two of the national lockdown, introduced to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19), while further relaxing the measures to allow informal businesses to operate upon registering with the relevant authorities.
Mnangagwa further indicated that the rent moratorium, which was introduced to cushion Zimbabweans who lost their income due to the national lockdown, has come to an end.
This comes as the country’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have skyrocketed to 332 owing to returnees from abroad, with 51 recoveries and four deaths having been recorded.
Giving an update on the national lockdown at State House in Harare yesterday, Mnangagwa said the increase in the country’s Covid-19 cases requires a more cautious approach in relaxing the lockdown restrictions.
“As such, the following adjustments to the lockdown are made, all our people in the informal sector, who have not formally registered themselves or their enterprises, are directed to do so forthwith. Once they can prove that such registration has been made, they can resume their operations.
“Upon resuming their work, they are compelled to adhere to the laid-down Covid-19 prevention requirements, such as the wearing of masks, washing or sanitisation of hands and social distancing.
“Gathering for purposes of worship must remain at a maximum of 50 and in full compliance with all the Covid-19 prevention measures, people are urged to travel when it is absolutely necessary, and the moratorium on rent payment, made during the early phases of the lockdown is hereby lifted. Rent arrears can be settled in instalments spread over a period of six months,” Mnangagwa said.
The national lockdown was first put in place on March 30, 2020, and has since been extended indefinitely, with Mnangagwa indicating that saving lives was more important than saving the country’s ailing economy.
Mnangagwa said the time was now to start opening up the economy, rebuilding and increasing production.
“As we continue returning to work, we must once again refocus, recalibrate and revamp. Let us recall that Zimbabwe was in the midst of deep and broad reforms. We were reforming distortions which have bedevilled our economy for decades. We were reforming the old, creating the new, and building stronger foundations for a more prosperous Zimbabwe.
“We began to reform our economic landscape as well as our political space and media space; by removing antiquated laws and opening up new channels for dialogue and debate. Unfortunately, just as Zimbabwe was opening up both internally and externally, we were forced, like much of the world, to close. To close our societies, to close our markets, to close our borders,” Mnangagwa said.
“Zimbabwe must once again be open. The freedoms we promised at the outset of the new dispensation must once again be felt across the whole of our society; freedom of assembly, freedoms of speech and religion, freedom to vote in free and open elections and freedom to flourish.
“We cannot and will not allow the period of Covid-19 to appear in our history books as anything more than a mere hurdle which we jumped over along the path to prosperity,” he further said.