Normalcy has almost returned in Bulawayo’s Central Business District (CBD) with most non-essential businesses now operating in defiance of lockdown regulations.
As part of measures to curb Covid-19 infections and deaths which spiralled during the festive season, the government imposed a stiffer lockdown coupled with a dusk to dawn curfew and ordered businesses in the non-essential sectors to close shop.
The lockdown was later further extended to the end of the month while businesses in the non-essential services sector were given the leeway to reopen upon satisfying WHO Covid-19 guidelines.
A snap survey by CITE this week showed that almost all shops in Bulawayo’s city centre are open and trading.
Gift shops, hard wares, boutiques and fast foods are all open while vendors are also trading.
“Life has to go on with or without a lockdown, said Sikhangele Mhlanga, who was doing her shopping in town.
“Some of us are building, so we need to buy some material and continue with life. Shops whether considered essential or non-essential should all be open because our needs are different as people.”
Mthulisi Ncube of Emganwini said the current lockdown restrictions were not spelt out clearly leading to various informal and formal trading in the CBD.
“So the opening of shops has created an increase of people going to the city for various reasons,” he said.
“People are adhering to masking up but ignoring social distancing.”
He said it was regrettable that people were crowding at shops and banks.
“The President gave a green light to informal businesses to operate on condition that they have WHO recommended Covid-19 prevention measures in place,” said Tellmore Ndlovu, another Bulawayo resident.
“I was surprised today when I got in town; it looks like we have returned to business as usual. This is clearly indication that people are hungry, and they are sending a clear message that it’s better to be killed by the virus than hunger.”
He added that to many self-employed, the lockdown is a hindrance.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to soon announce a way forward on the direction to be taken by the country after the expiry of the current lockdown on Sunday.
The country is currently vaccinating health workers and other frontline personnel following the donation of 200 000 Sinopharm vaccines by China.