Given that neighbouring South Africa had already effected a lockdown I guess people naturally thought Zimbabwe would follow suit. It is no longer just speculation but now a reality as our own local lockdown was officially announced by President ED Mnangagwa on the 27th of March. This is an unprecedented event in the history of the nation to have a national lockdown necessitated by a global pandemic, COVID-19. As can be expected there have been lots of questions amongst the public as to how this lockdown will be rolled out. Thankfully, a statutory instrument i.e. SI 83 of 2020 has been issued and it covers most of such questions. In this article, I will discuss pertinent things from that SI in my endeavour to respond to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the lockdown.
Duration Of The Lockdown
This is most known now but just to reiterate, the national lockdown will commence on the 30th of March and end on the 19th of April. The President did indicate in his national address that this will be subject to review. This can mean either of two things namely, cutting it short or extending it.
Conditions For Which One Is Allowed To Temporarily Leave Their Home
Under normal circumstances, everyone will be expected to be at their homes during the 21 days. One person (meaning one person per household) shall be allowed to leave their home given any of the following scenarios:
- to buy basic necessities at a supermarket or food retail store, or fuel or gas at a fuel or gas retail outlet, within a radius not exceeding ﬁve (5) kilometres from his or her home (unless there is no such shop or outlet within that radius, or such shop or outlet is closed for business, in which case he or she may go to the nearest such shop from his or her home);
- to buy medicine at the establishment of a pharmaceutical chemist within a radius not exceeding ﬁve (5) kilometres from his or her home (unless there is no such establishment within that radius or the needed medicine is not available there, in which case he or she may go to the nearest such establishment from his or her home);
- if the individual is employed in an essential service, to go to and from his or her place of employment and go about the business of that essential service;
- to obtain medical assistance on his or her own behalf or on behalf of anyone to whom he or she is related or for whom the individual has a duty of care: Provided that such assistance must be sought within a radius not exceeding ﬁve (5) kilometres from his or her home (unless it cannot be obtained within that radius, in which case he or she may obtain it from the nearest location to his or her home);
- to go to the home of anyone to whom he or she is related or for whom the individual has a duty of care for purpose of rendering assistance to that person for the purposes contemplated by subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iv); (vi)if he or she is a member of the staff of a foreign mission or agency going to or from such mission or agency
What Qualifies As An Essential Service?
You will notice earlier I mentioned about an essential service in part (iii) above. It has obviously been a burning question amongst many people as to who qualifies as an essential service. Here are some things to note:
The SI 83 of 2020 stipulates that every other business establishment shall be closed except for every business establishment providing an essential service or services in support of such a service, including but not limited to the following:
- banking institutions;
- payment and money transfer services;
- supermarkets and food retail stores;
- fuel outlets;
- health care providers;
- transport services engaged in the carriage of staff for essential services, the carriage of sick persons to hospitals and other health care providers, and the transport of water, food, fuel, basic goods, medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19 and other medical supplies;
Take Note: The above list is merely illustrative and is not intended to limit the scope of the deﬁnition of “essential service”.
For instance, in his ‘NOTICE 005/03/2O2O circulated on the 28th of March the Chief Executive Officer, Mr D. Madyausiku, of NEC Agriculture stated the following: “The National Employment Council for the Agricultural Industry In Zimbabwe (NEC Agriculture) has been informed by the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare that the agricultural industry has been classified as an essential service and is not required to shut down. Hence, agricultural enterprises may continue to operate during the lockdown.”
Transport services, whether intracity or intercity, for the carriage of passengers, shall be restricted to those provided by:
(a) The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO);
(b) Omnibuses and other passenger service vehicles operated by or on behalf of the Public Service Association, the Police Service, the Defence Forces and the Civil Protection Authorities;
(c) commuter omnibuses and other passenger service vehicles operated or chartered by local authorities for the carriage of staff for essential services, the carriage of sick persons to hospitals and other health care providers, and the transport of water, food, fuel, basic goods, medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19 and other medical supplies.
It is critically important to not take these matters lightly as violating them is liable to get you into trouble with law enforcement authorities. Every individual found outside his or her home shall have the burden of proving, to the satisfaction of an enforcement ofﬁcer, that he or she is covered by any of the exceptions listed in the SI I have just been referring to or is acting under demonstrably exceptional circumstances. I would encourage you to go through the SI 83 of 2020 thoroughly. Let us please play our part by only going out if it is necessary to do so. Please be safe and sanitise.