Zimbabwe has extended the level four national COVID-19 lockdown by a further two weeks until February 15 following a spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths.
Acting President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga, said the level four lockdown – which came into force on January 5 – had stabilised the situation, with the number of infections decreasing significantly.
“Equally, our recovery rate has gone up from an all-time low of 54% to 75%. Even though the numbers we are losing to the pandemic are falling, we bemoan the fact that Zimbabweans are dying at home,” said Chiwenga.
Victoria Falls Anytime Tours Manager, Sinini Mthimkhulu said the extended lockdown would further dampen tourism recovery in the short term but in the long run the sector would benefit.
“With Valentine’s Day around the corner, as an industry we were hoping to pick a few numbers from our domestic market coming on weekend getaways with their spouses or loved ones. Since the lockdown includes limiting movements of people it will be difficult to get any mileage with the lockdown. However, in the long run, since the vaccine will be rolled out soon and that the lockdown is primarily meant to curb the spread of the pandemic, the tourism sector will benefit.
“We are hopeful that by the Easter holidays the infection curve will have flattened and most people would have received the vaccine, hence we might have the increased activity and mileage that we need to keep our operations afloat,” she said.
What does the lockdown entail?
- The closure of all non-essential services and a 12-hour curfew (18h00 to 06h00) for all.
- All social gatherings have been outlawed.
- Hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets will stay open but are only permitted to operate between 08h00 and 15h00.
- Intercity transport – which includes both public services and private motorists – will only be extended to essential services.
- Restaurants, bottle stores and bars are closed. Hotel restaurants and bars may only serve guests.
- While air travel into Zimbabwe remains unhindered by the new hard lockdown, only returning residents and essential services – including commercial and transit cargo carriers – will be allowed to enter the country through its land borders.
- For visitors flying into Zimbabwe, tourist facilities and national parks will remain open but will be bound by the adjusted curfew hours.