Once again the lockdown has been extended by another 2 weeks. This hardly comes as a surprise as most people saw it coming. I, for one, felt it was inevitable but there would be some relaxations. From today (the 4th of May), the second lockdown extension has commenced effective 2 weeks. President Mnangagwa highlighted that it is going to be a Level 2 lockdown. Earlier he had hinted on the possibility of an extension. His rationale was, “I came to the conclusion that if citizens die if our people die, we cannot resuscitate them. So our bias is towards preservation of life”. He was saying this in light of how there is also a need for economic activity, no wonder the bias he mentioned there.

Highlights Of The Level 2 Lockdown

Safety Or Preventive Measures

The new stipulation now is that everyone is required by law to wear a face mask when roaming anywhere outside their homes. It has been indicated that failure to adhere to this will possibly lead to arrest. Fines for such violations along with other violations will be as high as ZWL$36 000. You could even face up to one year in jail. The face masks can either be commercial-grade (i.e. manufactured) or improvised – this is sympathetic to those who probably cannot afford commercial grade ones.

Formal Businesses Allowed To Operate

Just like SI 83 of 2020 was drafted to detail the first-ever Zimbabwean lockdown, this recent extension has been detailed into SI 99 of 2020. One of the first key highlights is the partial reopening of formal businesses. This is, however, going to be closely tied to stringent safety measures and testing procedures.

Businesses that are going to be allowed to operate will be expected to have at least one of the following 5 attributes:

  • A business holding a shop or other license from a local authority enabling it to operate the business in question from a specified premise.
  • A business which is the lessee of premises governed by the Commercial Premises (Lease Control) Act [Chapter 14:04].
  • A business that is a registered operator for the purposes of the Value Added Tax Act.
  • A business that is registered as an employer for the purpose of paying employee’ tax under the Income Tax Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 5) 554 Act or otherwise making a regular return of income for the purposes of that Act.
  • A business that is a party to a collective bargaining agreement negotiated through an Employment Council governing the business in question.

To add on to this, there is an interesting remark that the Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Nick Mangwana, said: “I asked the President specifically about the salons, he said yes, they can operate but only if they are complying with all these requirements such as social distancing, testing, wearing masks and sanitizers”.

Operating Hours

Businesses allowed to operate will be required to operate from 8 am to 3 pm. Exceptions to this stipulation will only be based on good cause anchored on approval by law enforcement officials.

Operating Parameters

All workers operating during this Level 2 lockdown will be required to undergo Rapid or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing before resuming work. They will all be mandated to avail themselves for screening and testing for COVID-19 at the direction of enforcement officers. Tests will either be rapid result diagnostics or any other just as long as it is approved by the Health Ministry.

Employers will have to arrange with enforcement officers for the screening and testing procedures I mentioned a short while ago. Where and when those procedures will be conducted will be up to agreements reached between the enforcement officers and the employers. The Health and Information ministries both have call centres for the purposes of seeking clarity in this regard and more.

Transport Matters

All vehicles used by the transport service will be mandated to get disinfected against COVID-19 by or at the direction of an enforcement officer at least twice daily. Public transportation will be strictly bused (ZUPCO ones) – kombis and taxis still remain banned. For one to be allowed to board a bus they will be required to undergo a temperature test and have their hands sanitized. The stipulation of public gatherings not exceeding 50 people will still apply.

A Brief Look At The Stimulus Package

President Mnangagwa recently indicated that the government is putting together a ZWL$18 billion economic rescue package. For instance, ZWL$1 billion will go to healthcare, ZWL$6 billion to agriculture and ZWL$3 billion to manufacturing. This all sounds quite good but concerns are emerging of where exactly this money will come from. Aside from that, it has already emerged that some funds earmarked for fighting the pandemic are being looted by individuals. So a lot still waits to be seen in as far as tangible results regarding this stimulus package are concerned. He also highlighted that there will be an income tax break for healthcare workers.

Business Opportunities To Note

This is a great time to consider some of the business opportunities available at the moment. All along I have been talking about moving your business online or starting one online. That space is still laden with opportunities – for example, e-learning is a great domain to look at right now. Given that face masks are now mandatory and that more people are likely to be moving around there is money to be made. Earlier I spoke of how the face masks can either be manufactured or improvised. As an enterprising entrepreneur, you can focus on procuring face masks and selling them. Alternatively, you can make your own, improvised ones and sell them. Either way, you can make quite a lot of money is the next 2 weeks and further on.

I am sure this information will help you position yourself correctly during these next 2 weeks. Stay safe!