We have no power to deal with errant bars: BCC

Bulawayo City Council’s Health Services Department has no power to close down bars or restaurants that serve unvaccinated patrons but rely on the police to enforce the law and arrest offenders.

According to the adjusted Level 2 lockdown regulations, as announced on October 5, 2021, licenced bars and nightclubs were allowed to re-open, only to fully vaccinated patrons.

These spots are meant to operate in adherence to curfew hours, that is 5.30 am to 10 pm and are also required to enforce the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols and national guidelines, failure of which their licences will be withdrawn.

However, it has been observed that various entertainment spots in the city do not comply with some of these lockdown regulations, as they allow unvaccinated patrons to sit in and sometimes open beyond curfew hours.

Responding to questions from the press Wednesday evening, Health Services Department Director, Dr Edwin Sibanda, said the health department worked with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to make sure people complied with the regulations.

Dr Edwin Sibanda

“Bulawayo had in place an Emergency Response Preparedness (EPR) team that had various pillars to handle the Covid-19 pandemic in the city. The EPR team has eight coordination pillars which are case management, surveillance, disinfections, burials, waste management, logistics, risk management and security. In March, the case management pillar took over with the risk management pillar the exercise of vaccinating people,” he said.

“One of the pillars in the EPR team during this Covid- 19 outbreak is the security pillar. This is a pillar that is ordinarily not there when we are dealing with Cholera, Measles and so on. Usually, there is no security to talk of but on this one (Covid-19) we did have a security pillar, which means that particular pillar must make sure there is enforcement,” he said.

Dr Sibanda noted it was the duty of the security to make sure people complied with the law.

“The security must make sure there is enforcement, be it in isolation, quarantine, compliance with set regulations because there have been so many of these Statutory Instruments, which are enforceable at law. It is the duty of that security pillar,” he said.

“It is their duty as ZRP and the best we can do is notify them because we do not have the powers to tell the bar to close because three four five patrons do not have valid vaccination cards,” he said.

Meanwhile, the health director also said that the Rapid Response Teams were still active but their numbers had scaled down with the waning of Covid-19 cases.

“At one time we had 10 teams but I think we are running between two and three teams depending on the figure. Like today (November 17, 2021) we have 10 new cases, which means searching for contacts of these 10. Usually, each case or contact can raise any number up to 10 contacts so we may be looking up to 30 people then the Rapid Response Teams will be revised accordingly to do their surveillance,” Dr Sibanda highlighted.

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