HPTO-NMB-080321

Govt hammers corona culprits

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Emmerson Njanjamangezi

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

njanjamangezie@dailynews.co.zw 

AUTHORITIES have announced a new set of fines — as they battle to curb soaring coronavirus deaths and infections in the country — including hefty penalties for not wearing masks in public and breaching the current dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Under the new fines, those who are caught not wearing a mask or not properly covering their face will be liable to a $5 000 fine — up from the previous $500 which was set in March last year when the government introduced the first hard coronavirus lockdown.

This comes as Zimbabwe is in the grip of a coronavirus drumfire, which has killed more than 1 000 people — including four Cabinet ministers and several business leaders.

The new fines, which include a jaw-dropping $1,6 million penalty for the highest level offence, kick-in at a time that police are grappling with increasing cases of people contravening Covid-19 regulations that were imposed by authorities to mitigate the pandemic.

Police have so far arrested nearly 400 000 people for Covid-19 violations since March 2020.

“Level one, two and three offences now attract fines of $1 000, $2 000 and $5 000. Fines go up to level 14 which attracts a $1 600 000 fine,” authorities said in a government gazette on Monday.

Level one to three offenders will pay deposit fines at police stations. They include cases such as common assault and public consumption of alcohol.

Level four to 14 offences are handled by the courts.

On Monday, the country recorded its highest Covid-19 deaths when 70 people succumbed to the disease. The spiralling cases of the pandemic in the country have triggered calls for the government to expedite its processes to bring in much-needed vaccines.

The raging disease has also seen authorities coming under pressure to further tighten the Covid-19 stay-at-home order which expires at the weekend.

The current stiffened lockdown includes a dusk-to-dawn curfew, which authorities had hoped would help to curb the spread of the disease locally.

The curfew means that people are prohibited from being out and about between 6pm and 6am, except for those providing essential services.

In addition, the operations of all businesses — except those providing essential services — were also once again suspended for 30 days, as authorities battled to curb the spread of the lethal disease.

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