The Zimbabwean government has slashed working hours for business and ordered companies to send 50% of their staff to work from home, as the southern African country intensified its Covid-19 lockdown measures.
A report by Business Live quoted the country’s vice-president Constantino Chiwenga, who also doubles up as health minister, as saying there had been a fourfold increase in new cases and deaths in the past week, compared to the week before.
Chiwenga said retail businesses and shops’ operating hours will be from 08:00 to 18:00, with operators expected to ensure “strict adherence to preventive measures such as proper wearing of face masks, sanitising and temperature checks of clients”.
“They should also ensure that they limit the number of clients in their shops to maintain physical distancing. Beer halls and nightclubs will remain closed whilst bottle stores will operate from 10:00 to 16:00.
“Operators should ensure that there is no drinking in and around their premises. Failure to adhere to these measures will result in withdrawal of business licences,” Chiwenga was quoted as saying.
Night clubs and beer halls remained shut.
— ZBC Official (@ZBCZW) June 13, 2021
According to the state-owned Herald newspaper, the country recorded 708 new cases in the last seven days.
“As of yesterday (Sunday) Zimbabwe had 1 323 active cases, Harare leading with 450 and Mashonaland West in second place with 267 cases,” the report said.
The report said that the major change to prevent or slow down infection in the latest lockdown restrictions was a ban on all religious and social gatherings.
Funerals were limited to 30 people.
Restrictions have a huge impact on people’s social lives, but the World Health Organisation country representative to Zimbabwe Dr Alex Gasasira reportedly said the government’s latest intervention was welcome and critical.
With the country’s public hospitals ailing, observers said the actual number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus was much higher than the official statistics, as most patients preferred to get treatment at home, said Business Live.