Namibia: Virus Battle Turning Point...16-Day Covid-19 Night Curfew in Six Towns

Namibian Presidential briefing at State House on new restrictions to combat Covid-19.
13 August 2020

The government has announced a dusk-to-dawn Covid-19 curfew in six local authorities, including the capital Windhoek, as coronavirus infections spiked to over 3 400 and 22 fatalities as at yesterday afternoon.

Cabinet has endorsed no movement of persons would be permitted in the restricted areas of Windhoek, Walvis Bay, Rehoboth, Okahandja, Swakopmund and Arandis between 20h00 to 05h00 for a period of 16 days as the country reverts to stage 3 of the state of emergency until midnight 28 August 2020.

To enforce this regulation, checkpoints will be introduced at specified locations within the City of Windhoek and on the parameters of the restricted areas to control movements, health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula announced yesterday during a televised media briefing. Shangula said the measures currently applicable to the local authority areas of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis are now applicable to Windhoek, Rehoboth and Okahandja. "Travel into and out of these restricted local authority areas to the rest of the country will be restricted to emergencies only, as defined in the regulations. Any person leaving the restricted areas, apart from critical and essential service providers, will be quarantined at own cost upon arrival at their destination," he directed.

Drivers of vehicles delivering critical and essential services travelling from the restricted areas will be quarantined as per the existing applicable modalities. Although travel will be permitted within the country, except for the restricted areas, the public is cautioned against unnecessary movement. Public gatherings, including weddings and funerals, have been reduced from 100 to 10.

"The issuance of permits for travel from and to restricted areas to attend social events such as weddings and church events is strictly prohibited. However, permits will be issued for travel to attend funerals of immediate family members, that is spouse, parents, siblings and children," Shangula said. All persons travelling from high-risk areas, including the restricted areas will be required to submit to mandatory supervised quarantine at their own cost, for seven days upon arrival at their respective destinations. Alcohol would be sold from 12h00 to 18h00 on weekdays and from 09h00 to 13h00 on Saturdays. The sale of alcohol on Sundays and public holidays is strictly prohibited. Restaurants in the restricted areas shall operate on a takeaway basis, while in other parts of the country, they will be allowed to operate under stage 3 regulations. As per stage 3 regulations, nightclubs, gambling houses and casinos are not permitted to operate. Face-to-face classes for grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils will continue for the next 16 days, while tertiary institutions have been advised to revert to online teaching and learning.

"Where applicable, learners should stay in the hostels to limit exposure, provided there is no risk of infection at the school," said Shangula. The health minister also announced as part of a plan by the government to decongest densely populated informal settlements, the authorities shall identify facilities and venues where residents can be temporarily relocated.

The local authorities shall ensure the availability of water and ablution facilities at these temporary relocation centres. Shangula said expanded targeted testing would be conducted in Windhoek after coronavirus cases more than doubled in the last five days. All points of entry and cross border movement of persons remain closed, except for the transportation of imported goods.

"We are now at a critical stage. The public must strictly adhere to the regulations and health and hygiene protocols, which are our first line defence. The law enforcement agencies must enforce these measures," Shangula remarked.

- anakale@nepc.com.na

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