Maputo — The Mozambican government has threatened to shut down the country's beaches again, if people continue to ignore preventive measures against the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, after a meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said the government is alarmed at the failure by many people to observe social distancing or to wear masks in public.
"With the rise in temperature, and the re-opening of the beaches, we noted last weekend that many of our fellow citizens have not understood the real meaning of the state of public calamity and the red alert that we declared", said Suaze. "They went on to the beaches with total disregard for the measures to combat Covid-19".
People had been seen drinking alcohol on the beaches (which is specifically forbidden), and had gathered in large groups, ignoring social distancing requirements.
"We are all called upon to reverse this scenario", stressed Suaze. The next two weekends will be three-day weekends, since they each contain a public holiday as well as a Saturday and Sunday. Suaze said these should be opportunities for families to enjoy themselves "and not opportunities for the spread of Covid-19".
To make matters worse, high temperatures are forecast, which are bound to attract large numbers of people to the beaches. Summer officially begins in Mozambique on Wednesday, and the forecast for the next few days is of temperatures rising to as much as 42 degrees Celsius in much of southern and central Mozambique.
"Next weekend, the first of the two long weekends, we shall make an assessment of the behaviour of our fellow citizens", said Suaze. "The results of that assessment, particularly with regard to the beaches, may dictate the taking of corresponding measures" - a clear threat to close the beaches again, or restrict access to them.
Suaze also guaranteed that the defence and security forces may be called upon to step up their actions to guarantee compliance with the preventive measures against Covid-19.
He reminded establishments that sell alcoholic drinks that, if they break the law, they can be fined, suspended or closed down. All bars should already be closed - but establishments such as restaurants and bottle stores can continue to sell alcohol as long as it is not consumed in public, and they do not become bars under another name