Elliot Ziwira Senior Reporter
Curfew hours have been relaxed from 8pm to 10pm for the convenience of travellers, while Government has resolved to open the country’s borders in phases beginning with private passenger vehicles and pedestrians from December 1, 2020, while assessments are undertaken regarding public transport.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said border posts that fall into the first phase are Beitbridge, Plumtree, Victoria Falls, Chirundu, Nyamapanda and Forbes.
“The borders will open first to private passenger vehicles and pedestrian traffic as from December 1, 2020, while further assessment is being undertaken with regard to preparations for handling public passenger transport.
“Cabinet wishes to inform the public that border operating hours are being fixed between 0600 and 1800 hours until further assessment of the situation. Curfew hours are being extended beyond the current 2000 hours to 2200 hours for the convenience of those who are cleared late at ports of entry,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
The extension of curfew hours takes effect after gazetting.
This development comes after the Department of Immigration recently advised Government to consider reopening land borders for passenger traffic in phases, particularly at Beitbridge Border Post where 500 000 people crossed per month in both directions before the national lockdown began on March 30.
Between 13 000 and 15 000 people are passing through Beitbridge Border Post each day from SADC countries, a situation that needs examination to guarantee safe movement of travellers and within health protocols against the spread of Covid-19.
Last month, Zimbabwe reopened airports to tourism-related travel, but passenger traffic by road and rail remained restricted until the latest announcement.
Only returning residents, commercial cargo, diplomats on Government business and human remains for burial were being allowed entry through the country’s land borders.
Minister Mutsvangwa acknowledged the continued assistance the country was receiving from partners to contain Covid-19 and implored citizens not to be complacent as the contagion was still to be vanquished.
“On this very positive note, the Government of Japan is supporting Zimbabwe in equipping four central and eight provincial hospitals with state-of the-art medical equipment comprising bedside intensive Care Unit monitors, an ultrasound scope, operation and examination equipment, a portable X-ray system, bedside Coronary Care Unit monitors, emergency ventilators, electrocardiographs, an anaesthesia workstation, and artificial resuscitators,” she said.
The equipment from Japan would soon be distributed to Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Sally Mugabe Central Hospital, Mpilo Central Hospital and United Bulawayo Hospitals.
Other provincial hospitals that are set to benefit are Bindura, Chinhoyi, Gwanda, Gweru, Kadoma, Marondera, Masvingo and Mutare.