Mozambique: Government Orders Wearing of Masks

Maputo — The Mozambican government announced on Wednesday that wearing face masks is now compulsory on all forms of passenger transport, and wherever groups of people are gathered.

Announcing the decision after an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said any type of mask, including home-made ones, is acceptable, as long as it covers the mouth and nose. Even a simple handkerchief, held in place by elastic bands would be sufficient.

Suaze said this new approach is in line with the latest advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the use of masks in preventing the spread of the coronavirus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

With this measure, nobody should be able to enter a bus, minibus or train, unless they wear masks. Although the concept of "groups of people" is not defined, this presumably means that when people visit supermarkets or other shops, they must wear masks.

The government also scrapped its ban on the use of bicycles and motorbikes as taxis. This ban had caused protests in several cities, including serious rioting in the northern port of Nacala on Wednesday morning.

Bicycle-taxis and motorbike-taxis can go back on the roads, provided they do not attempt to carry more than one passenger, and both the cyclist and his passenger are wearing masks.

Suaze said this change is an attempt to manage the health crisis while avoiding a socio-economic crisis. "In allowing bicycle-taxis and motor-bike taxis to operate, we are meeting the clamour from some strata of our population who normally use this form of transport", he said.

The government has also scrapped the clause in the state of emergency regulations which limited the number of passengers in any bus or minibus to a third of the vehicle's capacity. Now they can operate at full capacity, provided all the passengers wear masks.

The restriction on the number of people who can work in any factory has also been relaxed. The state of emergency regulations limited the number of people who can go on working to a third of the normal workforce.

Now industries can request that more than a third of their employees be allowed to remain at their posts during the state of emergency. The request should be made to the Labour Minister who must consult with the Minister of Industry and Trade.

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