Zimbabwe: Schools Opening Date Announced

(file photo).
29 January 2022

Schools open for all classes in nine days time on February 7 as Covid-19 infection levels continue falling, with the curfew now starting at midnight and bars and restaurants able to stay open until 10pm, but only for vaccinated customers.

Acting President Constantino Chiwenga, while extending Level Two lockdown measures including public masking and social distancing, has also relaxed entry requirements.

Fully vaccinated returning residents and visitors no longer need to undergo quarantine when they enter Zimbabwe, but like all others entering the country, must have a valid negative PCR test less than 48 hours before entry.

All workers can now return to their offices full time.

The opening of schools is likely going to be seamless following declarations this week that they were ready for the resumption of face-to-face classes without risking a spike in Covid-19 infections.

By Thursday, the average daily infection rate was down to 200 and continuing to fall as the fourth wave of Covid-19 infection continued to recede.

The peak of average infections was on December 14 with 4 580, which fell rapidly until the final week of December when it plateaued for more than a week at around 1 500 a day and triggered the delay in opening schools in the second week of January.

This delay, including next week, was stretched to four weeks until risks were considered sufficiently low.

The easing of extra lockdown measures by the Acting President were announced in a statement yesterday by the Acting Minister of Health and Child Care Professor Amon Murwira.

"The general school calendar starts on 7 February 2022 following one week of finalising all reopening preparations by both school administrators and parents.

"The business community to go back to working from their offices whilst continuing to observe Covid-19 prevention measures such as social distancing and continuing to encourage their employees and patrons to get vaccinated."

The curfew now runs from midnight to 5.30am.

Restaurants and hotels offering catering can now open from 8am to 10pm, but only the fully vaccinated can sit and eat inside the restaurant.

Bars and nightclubs can be open from 8am to 10pm, but again only the fully vaccinated can enter and they have been encouraged to maintain social distancing when they sit without masks to eat and drink.

Minister Murwira said over the past two weeks, the country had recorded a decline in new Covid-19 cases with the national epidemic curve indicating that the fourth wave is at its tail end and the wave appears to be being brought under control.

He said in that regard, the Acting President reviewed the Covid-19 Level 2 National Lockdown measures.

"All persons entering Zimbabwe must undergo a valid Covid-19 PCR test not more than 48 hours from the time of their departure for Zimbabwe. Those who do not have a valid negative PCR test and a certificate to that effect shall be denied entry into Zimbabwe;

"Quarantine for locals, returning residents and visitors is lifted for those fully vaccinated. The wearing of face masks in public places, especially public transport and closed space gatherings remain mandatory and must be enforced."

The eligible population has been encouraged to be vaccinated, while the provincial Covid-19 task-force teams are urged to increase their efforts in mobilising eligible members of the public to get vaccinated.

"Finally, the practice of WHO recommended Covid-19 preventive public health and social measures that include, washing of hands, sanitising, social distancing, avoiding crowds and gatherings is to continue.

"All of the above measures are subject to periodic review depending on the prevailing Covid-19 situation."

During the just-ended festive season, the Government praised Zimbabweans for their resilience in the face of Covid-19, urging everyone to remain vigilant and continue following expert advice to register total victory against the global pandemic.

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