The government has extended operating hours for businesses, allowing them to open from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm.

Briefing the media after a Covid-19 National Taskforce meeting this Monday evening, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said although we are not yet out of the woods, the pandemic is easing and the Government is also moving in to ensure business viability without completely lifting the national lockdown.

“As part of gradually opening the economy, the government has extended operating hours for the retail, wholesale and service businesses from the previously announced hours of 8 am -4.30 pm to 6.30 am – 6.30 pm.”

The National Taskforce also noted efforts to ensure that local health facilities remain ready to deal with any Covid-19 cases.

“We are encouraged to report that the majority of positive cases reported in Zimbabwe have been mild and as such have not required hospitalisation. As of 11 September 2020, a total of 148 cases were admitted to treatment facilities, while the rest of the confirmed cases were isolating at home.

“The Government continues to make strides in ensuring that the country’s preparedness and response plans are upgraded. As part of the effort to boost self-sufficiency through import substitution, local industries and tertiary institutions continue to ramp up production of PPEs and drugs.

“The University of Zimbabwe and a local company have begun manufacturing swabs required for collecting COVID-19 samples. The swabs have been submitted to the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Natpharm for quality assurance tests.”

Senator Mutsvangwa also announced that planned works at 11 isolation centres had been completed with funding from Government and well-wishers.

“The Government will continue to make preparations of our facilities to be able to cope with any potential spike in infections. Therefore, as of the 13th of September 2020, planned works at 11 isolation centres had been completed with funding from Government and/or well-wishers.

“These include COVID-19 isolation centres at Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital and Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare Metropolitan Province and Victoria Falls Beat Aids in Matabeleland North Province.

“They also include Rujeko Clinic and Mashava Gaths Mine Hospital in Masvingo Province, Beitbridge and Plumtree District Hospitals in Matabeleland South Province, Chinengundu Clinic in Mashonaland West Province, Chipadze Training Center and Guruve District Hospital in Mashonaland Central Province.”

The Minister also spoke on approved relaxations for the tourism and hospitality industry, and the aviation sector.

“Work is advanced in the preparations for the re-opening of the Victoria Falls International Airport. This includes assessment and staff training. The readiness of other ports of entry is under assessment and the nation will be advised.

“The Taskforce received a briefing from the Attorney General on Statutory Instrument 216 of 2020 which, among other issues operationalises the resumption of the aviation sector, regulates tourism operations under the lockdown, and the special provisions for liquor licensees.”

The Chief Coordinator to the National COVID-19 Response, Dr Agnes Mahomva clarified issues surrounding the requirements for retesting.

Although COVID-19 cases are easing in the country, the government has reiterated calls for Zimbabweans to guard against complacency as the pandemic is not yet over. -ZBC