HARARE: Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Tuesday announced a raft of more strict lockdown measures including imposing a curfew to curb rising cases of COVID-19.
In an address to the nation, Mnangagwa said the curfew will run from 6 pm to 6 am, although essential services are exempted from the curfew.
"With effect from tomorrow Wednesday 22 July 2020, all our security services must enforce a dusk-to-dawn curfew set to come into force daily between 1800 hours and 0600 hours," Mnangagwa said.
He said among the measures, which come into effect on Wednesday, all non-working sections of the population will be required to stay at home, except for purposes of securing food, water and health services.
He cut operating hours for businesses, which will now run from 8 am to 3 pm from the usual 4:30 pm, with the exception of providers of essential services.
Only registered small and medium enterprises will be allowed to operate and must adhere to World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 regulations.
Food markets will also remain open but must observe set measures, while inter-city public transport to rural areas remains banned, Mnangagwa said.
Approved buses and vehicles for public transport are expected to increase their adherence to public health standards, while all business operations are expected to observe and enforce WHO anti-COVID-19 standards.
Mnangagwa said public gatherings for social, religious or political purposes remain banned, with funeral gatherings also remaining curtailed.
"These measures are being taken for our collective safety. As Zimbabweans, we have to win the war against the COVID-19 pandemic," Mnangagwa said.
He said he will review the measures once the situation improves.
Zimbabwe's COVID-19 cases jumped from 985 last week to 1,713 as of Monday, with locally transmitted infections that had hitherto remained under control over the past three months, surpassing imported cases for the first time.
Internally transmitted infections are now 872, compared to 841 imported cases.
Deaths also rose from 18 last week to the current 26, including 472 recoveries.
"Another worrisome development is that more and more cases of local transmissions are being reported at places of work. COVID-19 is thus no longer a problem out there, far and beyond our borders, rather it is now here amongst us and in our communities, " he said.
Zimbabwe first imposed a total lockdown at the end of March, which had been gradually eased over the past months as more sectors of the economy opened up.
Mnangagwa said the country could not afford to be complacent given the fact that neighboring South Africa was recording an exponential rise in cases, and now ranks fifth globally in terms of infections.