INFORMATION, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists during a Post Cabinet media briefing that the country’s borders will be reopened starting today as advised two months ago.
The reopening of the borders also comes at a time the country is experiencing a surge COVID-19 cases with Matebeleland being the epicenter of the infections.
Senator Mutsvangwa said, “Cabinet also wishes to report that the re-opening of the country’s borders has been effected as scheduled, starting today, 1st December 2020.
“On the number of people allowed at gatherings, Cabinet notes that the different numbers specified for various types of gatherings has caused general confusion and violations of restrictions. Accordingly, henceforth, the number of people permitted at any gathering is restricted to 100, irrespective of what the gathering is being convened for. “
she added that Cabinet was advised that Zimbabwe had recorded a cumulative 9 714 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 8 470 recoveries, and 275 deaths as at 27 November, 2020. The national recovery rate stands at 87% percent. Eight thousand two hundred and thirty-nine (8 239) of the COVID-19 positive cases are local transmissions.
“Of concern, is the increase in the number of new cases detected, from 281 recorded in week 46 to 594 in week 47 following the re-opening of schools. In order to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools the following measures are being implemented: intensification of the supervision and inspection of boarding school facilities; providing potable water to 48 schools in Bulawayo which are in dire need of the essential commodity; strengthening of public health response measures in affected schools; supporting all education institutions to fully implement COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures; and implementing COVID-19 protective and preventive measures in the social spaces beyond school premises.”
She however cautioned media to “report responsibly on the situation prevailing in primary and secondary schools and seek information from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Health and Child Care on issues of interest. This will avoid the undue alarm and despondency caused by the uncoordinated reportage witnessed since the re-opening of schools.”
She added that enforcement of the measures and communication of same is being intensified, while schools will remain open only if they adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures.
Meanwhile, cabinet has also resolved to extend the closing hours for restaurants from the previous 18:30 hrs to 20:00 hrs.
“In the tourism sector, Government notes the need to promote business activities in the sector, especially given the anticipated increase of tourists and returning citizens as the country’s borders re-open. Opening hours of restaurants will therefore be extended from the current 1830 hours closing time to 2000 hours closing time.
“Restaurant operators are called upon to strictly observe these hours of operation, ensure COVID-19 prevention protocols and guidelines are observed, which will be strictly enforced. Similarly, those patronising the restaurants should ensure that they adhere to curfew hours. Cabinet takes this opportunity to call upon all citizens to strictly adhere to COVID-19 protective and preventative guidelines, protocols and measures in order to arrest the surge in confirmed COVID-19 cases.”