Govt considering allowing inter-city travel

Sindiso Mhlophe

INFORMATION minister Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday revealed that the government has resolved to consider the reopening of inter-city and inter-provincial travel, amid the indefinitely extended coronavirus (Covid-19)-induced national lockdown.
This comes as the government recently relaxed the lockdown measures and approved the reopening of safari operations for local hunting and for restaurants to serve sit-in meals at 50 percent of their sitting capacity.
Mutsvangwa, following a meeting of the Covid-19 inter-ministerial taskforce in Harare yesterday, said the government would next week announce the measures to support the reopening of long-distance travel.
“The taskforce considered the request by stakeholders in the public transport sector for the reopening of inter-city and inter-provincial travel.
“Government recognises the current challenges being experienced by commuters to reach different destinations to attend to their essential needs. The taskforce has therefore resolved to scientifically consider a measured and responsible process of resuming inter-city travel. This will be announced next week after interrogation of the request by the appropriate sub-committee,” Mutsvangwa said.
This comes despite doctors’ warning that there was need to make sure that lockdown measures are maintained to avoid the increase of infections.
The country’s confirmed Covid-19 cases have now reached 716, including 181 recoveries and eight deaths.
 “The government must not rush to relax Covid-19 measures. It seems the focus is now on the economy but relaxation increases the risk of having more positive cases. There is a need to make sure that more people are tested and we have some who entered into the country without being tested. We are likely to see more local transmission and it’s worrisome,” Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) secretary-general Aaron Musara said recently.
Mutsvangwa further said that the easing of the lockdown regulations was not a sign that the country had beaten the Covid-19 pandemic, but was a balancing act between the economic and health needs.
“Let us remain vigilant in practicing preventative and protective measures. We are fighting an invisible enemy who knows no race, class, age or religion. It is up to each and every citizen to not only ensure that they are protected but those around them are also practicing behaviour that combats the spread and transmission of Covid-19.
Mutsvangwa indicated that an association of parents with private students in China is arranging a charter flight with Air Zimbabwe, adding that Zimbabwe’s Embassy in China is currently negotiating with the Chinese for landing permit rights for at least two flights.
Over 2 600 students have registered at various Zimbabwean embassies abroad, including in China, for the government’s assistance to be repatriated home, as they cannot not afford air tickets now costing US$5 000 one way.

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