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Making Sense of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021

Big Sky #Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021

As the mud clears after clarifications and final statements have been issued by ZRP and the various Ministry’s, Big Sky attempts to make sense of Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021. We originally published on the issue in April 2020 (https://bigsky.co.zw/update-covid19-national-lockdown-legislation/ ) and given the numerous amendments to the Public Health statutory instruments since, we offer our views on Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021.

TRAVEL BY ESSENTIAL SERVICES WORKERS

As before, workers in the Essential Services sector are to carry copies of the Lockdown Exemption Letter issued to their company/organisation, and a letter on the company/organisation’s letterhead:

Lockdown Exemption Letter:

According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”: “Companies in the manufacturing, distribution, wholesale, retail, commerce, tourism and hospitality industry are advised to make use of the Lockdown Exemption letters previously issued by Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry for the next seven (7) working days, during which companies should renew their exemption letters.”

And: “Regarding the Tourism and Hospitality industry, Agriculture and Mining the companies in these sectors should get their Exemption letters from their respective parent Ministries.”

The press statement issued by ZRP on 4 January 2021, states: “Movement and exemption letters will now be issued by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce”

This implies that “Do It Yourself” letters/affidavits stamped by ZRP will not be accepted at the checkpoints, and only a Ministry issued letter will be accepted. Given the massive pressure and (unhealthy) congestion at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce offices, we expect other entities to approach their respective ministries, including Tourism, Agriculture, etc. (Also see Notes, below).

Employer’s Letter:

According to the “Final Revised Ministry Statement, 4 January 2021”, the employers’ letter should include:

  • Employee name and ID number
  • The points of commute
  • Company line of business/products and state how that is covered by the Statutory Instruments
  • Working hours, and shifts where necessary
  • The letter should be signed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Managing Director (MD)

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) in another of their very useful updates, published a suggested template for the employer’s letter. (For a copy of this CZI update, email sean@bigsky.co.zw).

INTER-CITY TRAVEL DURING ZIMBABWE LOCKDOWN 2021

Inter-city travel during Zimbabwe Lockdown 2021 is still restricted. ZUPCO remains the sole authorised public transporter. Members of the public can still only travel on essential service and must carry documentation or similar proving the purpose of the trip. Where practical, we recommend not more than one person in a vehicle, to avoid the appearance of ‘holidaying’. If more than one passenger is travelling, all must be carrying ‘letters’.

Checkpoints typically accept up to 4 passengers in a vehicle with both front and rear seats, and 2 passengers in a pick-up/truck with front seats only. Every occupant of the vehicle must wear a mask.

HOLIDAY AND RECREATIONAL TRAVEL

The Health Minister’s public announcement on 2 January, 2021, said, “Tourist facilities and national parks will operate as before subject to the usual health precautions”. Given the Health Minister’s ruling it is a given that tourists must travel to their holiday destination, and the great majority will travel by road.

However, the continued operation of the “tourist facilities and national parks” is not explicitly provided for in SI 10/2021. We therefore advise domestic tourists travelling by road to carry copies of your accommodation bookings AND a copy of the Health Minister’s “Lockdown Statement, 2 January, 2021”. (For a copy, email sean@bigsky.co.zw).

AIRPORT DROP-OFF’S AND COLLECTIONS

Travelling to the airport, carry a hardcopy of the passenger’s air ticket. On the return journey, present the passenger’s passport and boarding pass. This also provides for airport trips during curfew hours. As the source you can quote Public Relations – Civil Aviation Authority.

TRAVEL BY DOMESTIC STAFF

Once again there is no reference in any Statutory Instrument, ZRP or ministerial statement to travel by domestic staff or any persons employed by a “non-commercial entity”. As previous, we recommend employers prepare a letter based on the formal employer’s letter (see above), supported by an affidavit stating the purpose of the travel and stamped at your local police station.

NOTES

There is no reference in SI 10/2020 making it a requirement for motorists to carry letters stamped by ZRP. Based on inter-city travel during the 2020 lockdown periods, provided the motorists’ documents were in order, ZRP stamped letters were neither requested nor expected. However, given the pressure on the various ministries, we understand employers and travellers are approaching police stations with a letter and supporting affidavit, and being assisted.

Under no circumstances should you pay for either Exemption Letters or police stamps.

These notes are provided for guidance only and should be read with the Public Health Order (COVID-19) and subsequent amendments. We welcome any feedback, kindly email sean@bigsky.co.zw.

ZRP CONTACT NUMBERS

To report cases of harassment and attempts to solicit bribes at lockdown checkpoints or at police station level, contact:

ZRP Police General Head Quarters – Internal Investigations. 2005 Fife Avenue, corner Enterprise Road, Harare: (0242) 702083 / 707702 (Office hours only. After office hours call PGHQ, number below).

ZRP Police General Head Quarters, Harare: (0242) 703631 (24-hour)

 – PGHQ, Harare Anti-Corruption members will take calls from all over the country, referring you to the most appropriate personnel in your area, where necessary. Senior members of the Zimbabwe National Army are coordinating anti-corruption efforts with their counterparts in PGHQ.

ZRP Provincial Operations, Matabeleland: (0292) 885479 (24-hour)

ZRP Provincial Public Relations: (0292) 260358 (Office hours) – Contact for assistance with incidents throughout Matabeleland

Thank you,

#stayathomestaysafe

Sean Q. and the BIG SKY TEAM

Acknowledgments:
Howard Dean, publisher of BIZ Bulletin and Labour Relations Information Service. Subscription inquiries to aquamor@mweb.co.zw

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI). (024) 2251496

Optima Legal (Pvt) Ltd. Visit www.optimalegal.co.zw

To download copies of all COVID-19 statutory instruments and amendments, visit https://www.veritaszim.net/node/4120

Published 06 January 2021

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An Update on the COVID-19 National Lockdown Legislation …

An update on the COVID-19 National Lockdown legislation …

We should be MORE vigilant during the national lockdown extension period, not less.

  1. The coronavirus is active in Zimbabwe, infection rates are increasing and as winter approaches, we are all potentially more vulnerable.
  2. The lockdown is still in place with very good reason – to restrict movement and limit the spread of the coronavirus. Despite the relaxations, the lockdown laws still reflect this need.
  3. As a result of the reduced restrictions during this phase of the lockdown, the risk of infection increases significantly, especially amongst commuters using public transport. Read on …

SI 99/2020 was published on 2nd May 2020, principally to extend the lockdown period to 17th May 2020, with important changes, including:

TESTING FOR COVID-19

Employers must arrange for the testing “at an agreed time at the workplace or at any other place agreed between them and an enforcement officer. Employers may contact the Ministry of Health Call Centre or the Ministry of Information Call Centre.”
Issues:

  1. To our knowledge, there are insufficient test kits in the country to test all employees in the formal commercial and industrial sectors.
  2. To our knowledge there are NO private, Ministry of Health approved institutions currently providing COVID-19 testing, to MoHCC specifications.
  3. SI 99/2020 is silent about the testing of the essential services already operating, including the food and agriculture sectors, mining, and manufacturing. How will COVID-19 testing be applied to these sectors?

Update 08:00, 4th May 2020

During a media briefing late on 3rd May 2002, the Minister of Information, Hon. M. Mutsvangwa announced the following designated medical (testing) facilities:
1) All government and municipality health facilities, mission hospitals, and New Start Centres (Not for Profit).
2) Designated private institutions include PSMI, Lancet Laboratories, and CIMAS.

In short, a large number of businesses who are permitted to resume trading and earning an income, from Monday, 4th May, cannot legally do so.

Update 20:00, 5th May 2020

At a post-cabinet briefing in Harare, the Minister of Information, Monica Mutsvangwa announced that companies in the commercial and industrial sectors opening under SI 99/2020, will be permitted to open subject to workers undergoing temperature tests when entering work premises, companies to provide sanitizers for workers on entry to sanitize their hands, each employee to wear a face mask and employees to practice social distancing in the workplace.

Update 07:00, 7th May 2020

SI 102/2020 is published on 6 May 2020, giving employers some reprieve. Companies in the commercial and industrial sectors opening under SI 99/2020, are given 14 days from 7th May 2020 to have workers tested. The 14-day period starts at a later date if the company can prove it re-opened at a later date. Subsection (3a) gives the Minister of Health the option to request companies to retest workers within 30 days.

CONTACT NUMBERS FOR COVID-19 TESTING

Covid-19 Call Centre number is 2019.

General contact for Ministry of Health is (0242)798555/60 and email pr@mohcc.gov.zw

The toll-free number for the Ministry of Information Call & Data Centre is 2023.

Note: There are private clinics carrying out both rapid results testing (RRT) and Polymerase Chain Reaction testing (PCR). The cost of the RRT is around US$25.00 and US$65.00 for the PCR.  Clinics include Lancet Laboratories and CIMAS.

Businesses are at all times to observe the social distancing rule at the workplace, to wear protective masks, and to make available for use by employees and other persons hand sanitizing liquid.

FACE MASKS

A face mask, manufactured or improvised, capable of covering the nose and mouth of the wearer, must be worn by anyone permitted to leave his or her home, or in any public space.

THE FORMAL COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL SECTOR

From 4th May 2020, businesses in the formal commercial and industrial sectors are permitted to operate. Employers and employees in these sectors are now regarded as persons employed in an essential service. Formal businesses include those that hold a shop licence, are VAT registered, a lessee, etc.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT

ZUPCO (and its franchised bus operators), remains the sole authorised public transporter. (Kombis and mshika-shika are still prohibited from operating). Every vehicle operated by ZUPCO must be disinfected against COVID-19 by or at the direction of an enforcement officer at least twice daily. Every individual must be temperature-tested and have his or her hands sanitised before being allowed to board any vehicle. Every individual in or about a vehicle used for a transport service must observe the social distancing requirement of at least one meter.

Issues: Under normal circumstances, there were already insufficient ZUPCO buses operating, even with the kombi’s and private vehicles operating. We can expect considerable pressure on passenger loading points and on the buses, with zero likelihood that one-metre distancing will be maintained between passengers. In our view, this is the area with the greatest risk of infection amongst employees commuting to work

Before resuming work for the first time during the national lockdown, every employee and employer (in business in the formal commercial and industrial sector), must be screened and tested for the COVID-19 disease, whether by use of the rapid results diagnostic test (RRDT) or other test approved by the Minister of Health. The rapid results diagnostic test is defined as “a test for the presence or absence in an individual of COVID-19 whose results are obtainable instantly or on the same day as the test.

Questions we at Big Sky Supplies are regularly asked

Need for exemption letters: If your business or industry falls under the definition of essential services (which includes the formal commercial and industrial sectors, from 4th May), an exemption letter from the relevant Ministry is not required, as the statutory instruments represent the authorisation. However, company representatives must carry a letter from their employee, with ID numbers, to pass through checkpoints.

Right to exercise: Unlike South Africa, there is no provision for exercising in public spaces. As exercise builds immunity through both physical and mental well-being we trust that the authorities will relax on this issue during the next stage of the lockdown. In the meanwhile, as we have stated before, there is nothing preventing you from walking to the shops within a 5 km radius of your home.

Is travel around the country permitted? Inter-city travel is still restricted. ZUPCO remains the sole authorised public transporter. Members of the public can still only travel on essential service and must carry documentation or similar proving the purpose of the trip. Where practical, we recommend not more than one person in a vehicle, to avoid the appearance of ‘holidaying’. If more than one passenger is travelling, all must be carrying ‘letters’.

NOTES:
If a matter is not amended in one of the recent statutory instruments, the requirements of the original Public Health Order, still apply.

These notes are provided for guidance only, and should be read with the Public Health Order, COVID-19 and subsequent amendments, copies are available on request.

Thank you, #stayathomestaysafe

The BIG SKY TEAM

Acknowledgment: With thanks to Howard Dean, publisher of ‘Labour Relations Information Service’ (LRIS), and ‘Business Information Zimbabwe’ (BIZ) for his contribution to this update. (Subscriptions cover costs. If you are interested in paying a six-monthly subscription to receive regular updates of LRIS and BIZ, email aquamor@mweb.co.zw for details of how to subscribe. ZW$2,500.00 covers six months).