More on Curfew regulations Zimbabwe: hefty penalties of up to $36 000 or a year in jail

THE gazetted legal statutory instrument amending lockdown regulations by setting the 6PM to 6AM curfew, now requires church gatherings, jogging, walking and cycling to take place not earlier than 8AM or later than 3PM.

The definition of “wearing a face mask” in a public place now means that wearers must “securely” cover their nose and mouth with the mask.

Acting Minister of Health and Child Care Prof Amon Murwira gazetted Statutory Instrument 174/20 under the Public Health (Covid-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 14) on Wednesday.

The new law stipulates that those who fail to comply face hefty penalties of up to $36 000 or a year in jail. The curfew definition of essential services includes all services already defined as essential for other purposes with six deletions.

While the production, supply, delivery and distribution of food, fuel and coal is permitted during the curfew hours, supermarkets and food shops cannot operate during the curfew. Banks, bureaux de change and the like have to obey the curfew, except their security staff can work at night. Courts, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, public examinations and Parliament remain essential services for all other purposes, but have to obey the curfew.

The amendment to the lockdown regulations adds mining and the operations of designated tobacco auction floors to the list of services that are exempted and can operate during the curfew.

Under the curfew all travel by those who are in non-essential services, in or out of vehicles, is prohibited during the curfew hours and they must stay at home.

However, there are five categories of exemption from the movement ban, but the onus is on the person moving outside curfew hours to satisfy the officer enforcing the curfew.

People are allowed to “break” curfew to buy medicine, move to and from work if they are employed in the essential services, seek medical attention, go to the home of a relative who needs medical help, or if they are a member of staff of a foreign mission or agency and are going to that mission.

Besides the essential services and businesses, there are also exempted businesses. These remain the same with no change of definition and so can continue operating, but their hours have been shortened back to 8am to 3pm. This means all industrial and commercial businesses, including those in the informal sector that have been already exempted, can continue.

Supermarkets, food shops, fuel outlets, restaurants, and safari and hunting operations have, however, for the purposes of operating times been added to the list of non-essential businesses that can operate only between 8am and 3pm.

Some of these, especially restaurants and service stations, had been able to operate outside the previous restrictions on hours, but no longer.

The amended regulations now lay down the rules for what happens when a member of staff of a non-essential, but exempted business, which for this purpose now includes the food shops, restaurants, service stations and safari operations, tests positive or is confirmed to have died from Covid-19.

The relevant premises have to be closed and disinfected before reopening and immediately before the reopening every other member of staff who could have been in contact with the affected member of staff must be tested.

Police also urged members of the public to comply with the new measures announced by President Mnangagwa on Tuesday.

In a statement yesterday, Police Commissioner-General Godwin Matanga said police and other security agents will ensure that the Covid-19 preventive measures are complied with countrywide to ensure the health and safety of Zimbabweans.

“The public should co-operate with law enforcement agents to enable the maintenance of law and order in the country to proceed smoothly. Non-working sections of our population required to stay at home should do so and put their health first in order to fight Covid-19,” he said. “In this vein I urge the public to secure food from their nearest shopping centres and this should be done by selected family members to curtail public gatherings. Those accessing health services and water should do so in an orderly manner, which promotes safety and security for all.”

Comm-Gen Matanga said they will ensure that there is no non-essential human and vehicular traffic movement during the curfew hours.

He said those who those who defy curfew orders will be charged in terms of Section 17(3) (4) of Statutory Instrument 174/20 as read with SI83/20.

Comm-Gen Matanga also warned errant kombi drivers, bottle store and shebeen operators against violating curfew regulations.

“Kombis which are moving around without number plates and carrying passengers in violation of Covid-19 lockdown regulations will be impounded with owners facing stern action. All commercial and manufacturing enterprises should stick to the stipulated business operation hours from 8am to 3pm to avoid hassles with law enforcement officers,” he said.

“This includes supermarkets, vegetable markets, banks, food retail shops and those in the informal sector with the relevant permits.”

Comm-Gen Matanga said no intercity public transport and rural areas movement will be allowed to proceed beyond checkpoints and roadblocks. He also warned motorists who are in the habit of travelling at night to evade police, saying they risk being arrested and charged for violating Covid-19 regulations.

He said they have intensified patrols and deployments in checkpoints across the country.

A total of 2 654 people have been arrested between Wednesday and Thursday for violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations. Of those arrested, 1 273 were arrested for unnecessary movement and 661 for failure to wear masks.

Comm-Gen Matanga said yesterday 284 people escaped from isolation and quarantine centres and 30 have been arrested.

“We have stepped up security at points of entry and exit in the country and acts of smuggling and border jumping will not be tolerated. Members of the public are free to reports acts of corruption by police and security services members on 0242-748836/703631 or WhatsApp number 0712800197,” he said.

Comm-Gen Matanga said police will continue to monitor church gatherings to ensure that they adhere to strict World Health Organisation (WHO) Covid-19 protocols.

“Religious gatherings should have at least 50 congregants or less and services should be conducted between 8am and 3pm with strict adherence to WHO health guidelines and Covid-19 protocols. families conducting funerals throughout the country are urged to observe Covid-19 lockdown regulations by ensuring that 50 people or less attend burial,” said Comm-Gen Matanga.

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