Bulawayo residents have welcomed the easing of Covid-19-induced Level 4 lockdown measures announced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa Monday, saying they will go a long way in ensuring citizens fend for their families with minimum restrictions.
Part of the new relaxed measures include scrapping of travel exemption letters, giving the green light for intercity travel to resume and granting of the informal sector permission to reopen but in compliance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
“On the scrapping of travel exemption letters I think it was a necessary development considering that exemption letters were mostly produced when going to the CBD; they did not apply to those living in the CBD if they were to visit townships,” said Vusumuzi Chirwa, a Cowdray Park resident.
“The lockdowns were only aimed at stopping masses from going to the CBD yet locals were not being monitored in their own townships.”
Chirwa said allowing intercity travel to resume was a welcome development in kick-starting the economy, which is largely informal.
“Most people are informal traders who have to travel from one city/ town / or province to another to conduct their business,” said Chirwa.
He said the previous curfew hours were making it a struggle for many to abide by adding there was inadequate personnel to enforce it.
“Given the complete opening of the economy which has just been pronounced, it makes no sense to continue shutting our borders bearing in mind that over 90% of citizens are employed in the informal sector with a significant number of them being cross border traders,” added Chirwa.
President Mnangagwa was mum on the reopening of borders.
“Besides many people were using fake letters. Corona is part of us and we just have to find a way to live with it. The resumption of intercity travel will make life return to normal with of course taking strict measures of avoiding the spread of the virus.”
Ncube further said: “The lockdown had taken too long hence most people were now starving and engaging into criminal activities, so the easing of measures is a welcome development.
“Curfew hours are in line with informal business which is a good move and it’s also an intelligent approach (by Mnangagwa) to be silent on borders as people will avoid traveling and contain the virus.”
National Consumer Rights Association (NACORA) spokesperson Effie Ncube, also welcomed the easing of lockdown measures as a step in the right direction.
“The scrapping of the travel exemption letters is a significant development for the majority of poor people who would want to move around in search of food for their children, so it means a more relaxed environment for them to walk around, to run around, search for income for food for their children,” Ncube told CITE.
“The resumption of intercity travel and the extension of business operating hours and allowing the informal sector back into business is also a very significant development in the sense that it will allow people particularly from the business side to go back to making the money which they were making.”
He added that the relaxation was expected considering the decline in Covid-19 cases and deaths.