With Covid-19 infections spreading, the tight control of public gatherings is strictly enforced with the burial of national hero Major General (retired) Clever Chiramba tomorrow at the National Heroes Acre being attended only by a small group of invited people.
The death toll from Covid-19 hit 33 yesterday, with 1 442 confirmed new cases but only 157 confirmed recoveries taking the number of active cases up to 11 254, according to the daily report from the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
Of the 33 deaths, Harare, the most populous province, recorded 11. Midlands saw seven, Bulawayo and Mashonaland West six each, Masvingo two and Mashonaland East one.
While Mashonaland West still remains the largest focus of new cases, the cities are seeing rising infections.
All social and religious gatherings, with the sole exception of tightly controlled funerals, were banned in mid-June along with a tightening of business hours to 6pm in the first tightening of the lockdown as the first signs of a third wave started to emerge.
The lockdown was further tightened this week with an extended curfew, business hours cut further to 8am to 3.30pm, and intercity passenger travel stopped.
The number of active cases, people who are definitely ill with Covid-19, exceeded 10 000 on Thursday for the first time since the second wave was beaten back in February and authorities were reminding everyone of the requirements to mask up, maintain handwashing, social distancing, and use sanitisers.
However, some people are still not compliant with the general and special Covid-19 lockdown provisions, prompting authorities to put boots on the ground to enforce compliance.
To start with, Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe said the burial of General Chiramba at Heroes Acre will be attended only by invited guests, a standard precaution for such funerals since the arrival of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.
“This time we are going to have very strict rules on the burial of our national hero. As you see that cases are rising countrywide. Only the invited and people will be tested as they enter and this time we are not going to allow anyone other than the invited persons to enter.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to inform the nation that public gatherings are strictly prohibited except for funerals only. At the funerals, only 30 people are allowed.
“The law enforcement agents will be coming in full force to enforce the lockdown as well as Covid-19 regulations after we witnessed a laxity,” said Minister Kazembe.
The intensified lockdown will be reviewed after two weeks to see if lockdown measures, which are continuously enforced, can be relaxed.
Government has put in place measures that allow most businesses to operate, at least for limited hours and with limited staff present on the premises, so keeping the economy open, but has barred just about all other activities that involve any sort of gathering or travel.
Highlights of the intensification of the lockdown announced by the President this week include:
Commerce and industry to open from 8 am to 3.30 pm.
Curfew extended to 6.30pm to 6am.
Industry to decongest workplaces to 40 percent with the rest working from home.
Intercity movements prohibited except for production and movement of food and medicines.
Travellers from countries with Alpha and Delta variants will be quarantined and tested on the first, third, fifth and tenth day at their own expense.
Travellers with fake Covid-19 documents face custodial sentence after arrest.
Ministers and Parliamentarians will disseminate information on vaccination in their constituencies.
People operating at marketplaces, tobacco auction floors cotton sales floors to be vaccinated and those who refuse when called for vaccination will not be allowed to operate.