Lockdown: Businesses want working hours extended

The business community wants working hours extended by two more hours when the government reviews the current Covid-19-induced lockdown which expires Monday following its further extension by two more weeks to February 15.

Following a surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths during the festive season, the government was left with no option but to impose a stringent 30-day lockdown coupled with a dusk to dawn curfew, which came into effect on January 5.

While both infections and deaths began to fall, the government further extended the lockdown in order to further arrest the situation.

Zimbabwe has so far recorded over 34, 600 Covid-19 infections of which over 1, 300 are fatalities.

The government is this week expected to give direction on the way forward after the lockdown comes to an end next week.

In a wide ranging interview with CITE this week, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) national vice president, Golden Muoni, said they expected the government to further relax lockdown conditions in order for businesses to thrive.

“We have suffered enough; we do not expect any further extension,” Muoni told CITE.

“What we expect is some bit of more relaxation and having more hours of working.”

He said reduced operation hours for businesses which run from 8am to 3pm were negatively impacting businesses.

“We are very much depressed about our production time; our operation time is limited,” he bemoaned.

“If our working hours could be increased to run from 8am to 5pm it could assist businesses to increase their sales, increase their production capacity.”

He said the current operating environment under lockdown was not conducive to business viability and growth.

“Business is very slow,” he decried.

“There is nothing to write home about because of the time of operating which is three to five hours. Some people do not get to work in time because of roadblocks and we are losing a lot of time.”

He said delivery trucks were also equally affected as a result of restrictions in movements.

“It’s a jungle with many challenges; it is a survival of the fittest,” he lamented.

“We work with what comes on the day.”

Muoni said it was their desire as business people to see the number of Covid-19 deaths come down.

“We want the number of deaths to go down and at the same time we want businesses to survive because if we continue to have such things, we are going to suffer more,” he said.

“The economy needs to be opened up as a matter of urgency because if we don’t do that, it will be a disaster for us.”

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