Zimbabwe’s level two COVID-19-induced lockdown entered the second and final week Monday amid concerns the first week has been marred by challenges ranging from transport scarcity to some companies failing to reopen.
Upon the expiry of the initial 21-day lockdown, which had been extended by a further two weeks, President Emmerson Mnangagwa moved Zimbabwe’s shut down to level two, asserting regulations would now be reviewed on a fortnight basis.
Level two, more relaxed than the previous, began last Monday and is due for review on May 17.
Under level two all companies in the industrial and commercial sectors are allowed to resume operations.
The government had initially instructed that companies needed to first test employees for COVID-19 at their own cost before resuming operations but later backtracked after it emerged corporates were facing challenges in securing rapid testing kits, while some felt it was the government’s responsibility to do so.
Companies were then allowed to postpone the testing of employees until they would have secured testing kits.
Owing to the relaxation of lockdown regulations, there has been an influx of people in Bulawayo wanting to get into the city centre, pilling pressure on ZUPCO, which is failing to cope with demand due to its depleted fleet of buses.
Some people are spending hours queuing to get into a ZUPCO bus and travel to town and the same applies when they want to leave town for their residential areas.
As part of level two conditions, Zimbabweans are required to wear masks while outside their homes to curb the spread of COVID 19.
A few days before the commencement of level two lockdown unscrupulous business persons profiteered on masks with some selling non-reusable masks for US$2.
Mkhululi Tshuma, a Bulawayo resident told CITE that for him there has not been any major difference between level two lockdown and the initial 21-day national lockdown which kicked-in on March 30.
“There was no transport [last week] and the government seemed unmoved to redress the situation,” he said.
“The so-called economic stimulus package is still missing and the government keeps shifting goalposts. This is so bad. People are hungry but our government seems more preoccupied with destroying the opposition than attending to COVID issues.”
He said while it was a good thing for citizens to wear masks as part of preventive measures but the conditions of some of the masses leave a lot to be desired.
“Some masks are just sorry pieces of cloth; more should be done to improve compliance and quality of masks,” added Tshuma.