Bulawayo is still under the general lockdown regulations, with the 10pm to 5:30am curfew and business closing by 6pm, and is not one of the four districts placed under the intensified special lockdown that includes a 6pm to 6 am curfew and a 3pm closing time for business as recently announced in some sections of the media, Health and Child Care Deputy Minister John Mangwiro said yesterday.
He was clarifying the position over reports that police in Bulawayo had introduced the tougher curfew as three Bulawayo suburbs were declared Covid-19 hot spots after the last Cabinet meeting: Nkulamane, Emakhadeni and the northern suburbs. While people in these hotspots, and other identified hotspots, are being urged to be extra vigilant, they are still under the general rules that allow most business to remain open to 6pm with the curfew starting at 10pm.
Under amended regulations gazetted yesterday by Vice President Chiwenga in his capacity as Health and Child Care Minister, the special intensified lockdown is limited at the moment to Hurungwe, Kariba, Kwekwe and Makonde districts and in these four districts the curfew is now 6pm to 6am, basically the hours of darkness in a Zimbabwean winter, with greater limitations on business opening hours and only essential service vehicles transiting the four districts allowed to move during the curfew hours.
The curfew in three of these districts was set last week at 7pm to 6am, but has now been extended and includes Makonde.
This means that the rest of the country is under the general lockdown regulations, with the shorter curfew, that were tightened recently but which still allow almost all businesses to remain open to 6pm.
That general tightening barred social and religious gatherings, except funerals and those are limited to 30 people.
The amended regulations have defined social gatherings more precisely to close legal loopholes but basically ensure that anything that people might see as a social gathering is one and so is legally banned.
The amended regulations also insist that anyone travelling from India or who has transited through India on their way to Zimbabwe not only has to have the PCR negative certificate that all travellers require, but also has to be retested at their own expense on arrival and even then, if negative, still be quarantined at their own expense for another 10 days and then undergo another test before they can move around under pertaining lockdown rules.
Dismissing the Bulawayo reports that the police were seeing the special lockdown rules that apply to the four listed districts also applied to parts of the city, Dr Mangwiro told a media conference in Harare last night that only the Presidium or Health Minister had the mandate to announce intensified lockdown measures.
“I heard there are certain sections of the media purporting that Bulawayo is under special lockdown. This is not correct. This statement is purporting that Nkulumane, Pelandaba, Emganwini, Sizinda, Emakhandeni, Cowdry Park, Pumula, and others are under special lockdown. This is not correct.
“If there is going to be a lockdown, I would like to advise the public, such an announcement would be made by the Head of State, who is the President Dr ED Mnangagwa, or anyone he would have designated or the Minister of Health and Child Care or anyone designated to do that on his behalf.
This week, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube was quoted in the media saying effective from yesterday, police would be deployed to monitor compliance with an intensified lockdown.
“Business hours is now between 8am-3pm meaning that all shops and businesses in town must close at that time. and this applies to the rest of the suburbs that have been declared hotspots.
“We are calling for maximum cooperation from members of the public so that we see this phase passing smoothly,” he said.