Zimbabwe: Be Self-Conscious As Covid-19 Rules Ease

18 September 2020
editorial

Government's recent relaxation of Covid-19 measures should be interpreted in the strict sense of trying to slowly restart the economy, while keeping the figures at their bare minimum.

It should be clear to everyone that these moves do not mean the country is now out of the woods with regards to Covid-19.

The disease is still wreaking havoc in our communities as evidenced by new cases that are being detected daily.

But the behaviour of some among us indicates clear disregard of the threat, as they allow complacency to set in and want to continue with life as usual.

Yet these are unusual times, and there is no need to pretend otherwise.

At first, when the disease reached our shores, everyone looked up to the Government and experts to lead the way in enforcing measures to stop its spread.

Now that everyone is more like a veteran when it comes to dealing with the virus, it is expected that every measure announced by the Government should be accompanied by responsible behaviour from the public.

People are now aware of how Covid-19's spread can be prevented and have been practicing the measures again and again.

Washing hands with soap under running water, sanitising, wearing masks, avoiding unnecessary travel and observation of social distancing have been the watch words in the last several months.

It is expected that people will continue respecting these measures even under relaxed restrictions to ensure that the disease does not spread.

What is worrying now is the emergency of a dangerous clique which, through various actions, seems to think that the relaxation of the Covid-19 measures relates to the dying threat of the disease.

That is far from reality.

The desire of the authorities is to relax the Covid-19 measures slowly, but backed by a response from the public that does not seem to throw caution to the wind.

We have seen in recent days some people disregarding the Covid-19 measures, as if we are no longer under the threat of the disease.

Some commuter omnibus operators have decided to unilaterally take to the streets, especially plying routes they know do not have police roadblocks and other check points.

These are disregarding all the rules -- they do not disinfect their vehicles, they pack the passengers without observing social distancing, and do not care about temperature screening and sanitising their passengers.

Another sources of complacency are the informal markets, where everything that disregards Covid-19 measures is the order of the day.

There is overcrowding as people sell various items, mainly second hand clothes, some doing so from open spaces, especially in the Mbare area and other high density areas of most urban centres.

A quick survey of Harare's Central Business District will show that there are lots of people who reach the city centre for various nefarious activities not classified under essential services.

Touts have since taken over some streets in the city centre where they charge motorists for parking space, despite that workers from Easypark, the city council's parking arm, are always available to do their job.

These touts do not care about social distancing, let alone wearing of masks.

Vendors are also tricking right into the city centre, especially during late afternoon, where they display their wares on the streets without following any measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19.

It should dawn on those wilfully disregarding the Covid-19 measures that their actions are putting millions of others at risk.

As the plan to slowly return to a normal way of life is being rolled out, it is imperative that everyone plays their part to ensure that we do not realise a spike of figures in the process.

The main goal remains to reduce the transmission of the virus, while at the same time slowly restarting the economy focusing on critical areas.

Measures taken recently to relax the environment include the permission for businesses to operate any time between 6.30am to 6.30pm, while examinations classes for those writing Zimsec exams will open on September 28.

Those writing Cambridge examinations started attending classes on Monday this week.

Returning residents tested within 48 hours before their return will now be allowed to self-quarantine at home if that test was negative, rather than stay in a quarantine centre.

On one hand, domestic flights have already resumed, while international flights will restart on October 1.

Bottle stores and other liquor outlets can now sell alcohol, but on the strict condition that no one drinks on or around the premises.

The tourism sector has since been given a green light to resume business, while inter-city bus services have been allowed, but operators will be required to re-register.

The Central Registry, which issues birth certificates, national identity cards and passports has also been allowed to open, but under strict conditions.

It should be realised that if everyone does not play their part, a resurgence of Covid-19 cases like what happened after relaxation of the lockdown in the Republic of Korea, China and Germany is possible.

This means the lifting of Covid-19 measures should come with responsibilities for every citizen, to ensure the easing of the lockdown does not become complex.

The complacency must just stop now. Not after that unnecessary gathering, not after that wild party, not after visiting that shebeen and not after taking that commuter omnibus on the road.

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