Swaziland Coronavirus Likely to Continue for Months, but Restrictions On Sport and Arts Lifted

Coronavirus cases in Swaziland (eSwatini) are likely to continue in the coming months, through the Christmas period and into April 2021, Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini said.

But, he announced that restrictions on sporting activities and arts venues would be eased immediately.

He told a meeting of media editors on Thursday (8 October 2020) there would be a gradual reopening of organised top level football activities. He said there were a number of international football matches coming up in the coming months.

He said the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) would 'immediately but carefully proceed with preparations for upcoming international games. This will see national teams go to camp immediately under strict health protocols.'

Government would also allow the Premier League and National First Division football to resume operations under strict health protocols.

These included no spectators at any football match and training venues; regular screening of all participants and only four match venues would be used to limit the movement of teams.

All other levels of football, including informal football, remain banned.

Sporting codes categorised as middle risk namely chess, gymnastics and swimming would be allowed to resume with effect from 12 October 2020 under strict coronavirus (COVID-19) protocols.

The Swazi Government is also to allow some arts activities to reopen, including theatre, comedy, poetry, fashion shows, and small-scale concerts. These will be under strict conditions, including a maximum of 100 people at any one event.

Dlamini said, 'Government will regularly send inspectors to all sports and arts activities to ensure compliance. Any sporting entity or artist and venue found not to be adhering to the laid down protocols will be banned from continuing with activities.'

Dlamini added, 'Nobody at the beginning of the year envisaged that we would be in the midst of a ravaging pandemic which has posed serious challenges to our economy and the health sector. Despite the recent reports showing a slump in infections, we are not yet out of the woods and health experts predict another surge in the coming months, especially around the festive season and in April 2021.

'This therefore leaves us with no option but to continue tightening up the screws which may pose danger to the lives of Emaswati while at the same time allowing our economy to breathe under a new normal. The only way to avoid another resurgence of new infections will be for all of us to strictly adhere to all the health guidelines, among others; wearing a face mask in public at all times, observing social distancing protocols, avoiding large crowds and gatherings and consistently washing hands with running water and soap or use an alcohol based sanitizer.'

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