Zimbabwe: Chiwenga Bans All Gatherings

Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday banned all gatherings, citing a surge in Covid-19 cases in the country.

Chiwenga's ban came just a few days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa gave artistes the greenlight to hold music shows limited to 50 people.

The measures, that include new business operating hours, come into effect tomorrow.

"With regards to gatherings, the following measures are to be implemented: All gatherings except funerals are banned," Chiwenga told journalists in Harare.

"These gatherings include, but are not limited to weddings, church gatherings, and music festivals as well as sports activities.

"Funerals shall be limited to 30 people. All Covid-19 funerals will be supervised by health personnel.

"The country is experiencing a surge (in Covid-19 cases) and the last seven days 596 cases and 26 deaths have been recorded."

The VP, who doubles as Health and Child Care minister, said this was against the 132 infections and six deaths in the same period last year.

"We will have strict enforcement starting Monday," Chiwenga said.

"Mandatory wearing of masks, social and physical distancing, washing of hands, contact tracing and quarantine.

He said all workshops and meetings would be held virtually with offices decongesting by 50% except for essential services.

Shops will now be allowed to operate from 6am to 6pm while beerhalls and nightclubs remain closed.

Hotels and lodge bars will only open to guests up to 10pm.

Chiwenga also said restaurants would serve takeaways only and popular markets such as Mbare Musika shall close at 6pm.

He said tobacco auction floors which flouted the regulations would be closed.

"Our health inspectors and other law enforcement agencies shall be monitoring for compliance. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in closure of that particular auction floor," he said.

He said all ports of entry shall have strict enforcement of the 48-hour old PCR negative certificate requirement and mandatory testing of all travellers from hot spots at their expense regardless of their negative PCR certificates.

Chiwenga, however, said the school calendar remained unchanged but they would announce new measures if the situation worsened towards opening of schools on June 28.

"There shall be quarantining of those coming from hot spots in designated quarantine centres at their own expense," he said.

"Those who present with fake Covid 19 negative certificates shall be arrested and prosecuted."

Mnangagwa first imposed a lockdown in March last year when the country recorded its first Covid-19 cases.

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