Zimbabwe: COVID-19 - Zimbabwe Reopens National Parks, Restaurants

A herd of elephants in Hwange National Park (file park).

Zimbabwe has lifted some Covid-19 restrictions by reopening its national parks to the public and allowing restaurants to start serving food within their premises.

This will save the country's tourism and hospitality sector from collapse, officials said.

The southern African country imposed a lockdown at the end of March to stop the spread of the coronavirus and the hospitality and tourism sectors have been one of the worst-hit by the restrictions.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa Wednesday said the sectors have been partially opened following requests from the industry.

Lockdown regulations allowed restaurants to stay open for their full licensed hours, but limited them to takeaway services.

The Zimbabwe parks agency said the lockdown had depleted its sources of funding and it was now struggling to pay its rangers.

Anti-poaching activities had also been hit hard by the lack of funds, the agency said.

The relaxation of the regulations will, however, only allow for domestic tourism.

Tourism is one of the country's biggest foreign currency earners with over 2. 5 million people visiting the country every year.

Zimbabwe is slowly reopening its economy despite a spike in new Covid-19 cases, which had gone up to 591 by Wednesday.

Seven people have died of the disease since the outbreak was first reported in the country in March.

The government says most of the cases being reported are citizens returning from countries such as South Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom.

Close to 10,000 citizens have returned home since the virus outbreak.

Thousands are being held at isolation centres across the country for a mandatory 21 days before they are allowed to join their families.

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