Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT has extended operating hours of businesses from 6.30AM to 6.30PM and is also working on reopening the Victoria Falls International Airport following the relaxation of travel restrictions.
In a media briefing yesterday following a meeting of the Ad-hoc Inter Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the economy is being gradually opened up.
“Additionally, as part of gradually opening the economy, Government has extended operation hours for the retail, wholesale and service businesses from 8am-4.30pm to 6.30am-6.30pm.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, as we gradually open the economy, we need to remember that we are doing this while taking all necessary precautions to fight the invisible enemy, Covid-19.
“The easing of lockdown restrictions is not an indication that we have defeated this pandemic, but we are a nation seeking to balance between our economic interests and the protection of life,” she said.
The Minister said preparations to re-open Victoria Falls International Airport were underway.
“The Taskforce also received an update on the implementation of the recent Cabinet directive which 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 the assessment and staff training. The readiness of other ports of entry is under assessment and the nation will be advised,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said 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 Taskforce noted that the sale and consumption of liquor by licensees is in three categories. The categories are as follows: i. Licensees that may sell liquor to customers for consumption off the premises during licensed hours.
“These include wholesalers, wine producers and bottle stores ii. Licensees who may sell liquor to customers for consumption on the premises during licensed hours. These include restaurants, airports, recreational park areas, houseboats, camps and caravan parks iii. Licensees that may sell liquor to customers for consumption on premises during licensed hours. These include casinos and theatre,” she said.
The Minister said by Friday, 222 people had succumbed to Covid-19 in Zimbabwe.
She said as of Sunday, 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; Victoria Falls Beat Aids in Matabeleland North Province; 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 Centre and Guruve District Hospital in Mashonaland Central Province,” she said.
“Outstanding works, at other Isolation Centres are at various levels of completion. We are encouraged to report that the majority of positive cases reported in Zimbabwe have been mild and as such have not required hospitalisation.”