Sunday Mail Reporters

Zimbabwe went into lockdown at midnight Monday and by the end of the day, the country had generally heeded President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call to close business, as a measure to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The following are reports from The Sunday Mail team, stationed in different locations across the capital.

Mtandazo Dube, in Central Harare, reports that most private hospitals in Harare were adhering to the Government directive to have one designated visitor once a day.

To de-congest the health institutions – hospitals went further and allocated visiting times for different hospital departments. For instance, paedriatic units receive visitors between 11am and 12pm while the visiting times for maternity wards are from 9am to 10am, with the visits ending at 2pm.

Wards at several health institutions have been heavily de-congested to create room only for critical patients and emergency situations.

In most areas near Harare’s central business district like Braeside, Queensdale, Hillside, Belvedere, the Avenues and even the notorious Matapi Flats in Mbare, people heeded the call to “stay home”.

Mixed groups of municipal police officers and the Zimbabwe Republic Police patrolled these places. Supermarkets and liquor stores shut their doors promptly at 3pm in most of the aforementioned areas.

Fatima Bulla reports that in Glen Norah A, the day started with residents  heeding the call to stay indoors without much movement. Most supermarkets and bars were closed as people seemingly were monitoring the situation.

There was a significant queue for gas at a nearby service station as well as a nearby borehole as the erratic supply of water which was cut off on Friday begun to strain residents.

However, later in the afternoon, people had increased their movements as some supermarkets opened. Although liquor outlets were closed, alcohol was being sold through the backdoor. Some took the lockdown to enjoy themselves, with a number loudly playing music from their vehicles.

An attendant in one supermarket said police officers had passed by, monitoring the situation and insisted on the shop owners to observe hygienic standards and precautions to prevent the spread of corona virus.

“They want someone to be at the door hand sanitising people who come in to buy. They also don’t want numerous people coming into the shop at once so that is what we are trying to observe,” the shop attendant said.

From Kuwadzana Extension, Harmony Agere reports that the situation was largely normal. People were roaming the streets freely and most shops were open, with vendors selling from their homes while kombi crews heeded the call to stop operations.

Emmanuel Kafe reports that Dawnview and Gevstein Park, sections of Tynwald, almost everybody was indoors – without any police presence. Some residents were complaining about the unavailability of Zupco buses as kombis heeded the call to lockdown.

Kuda Bwititi reports that in Eastlea, people heeded the call for a lockdown as most residents spent the day indoors and only a few vehicles were seen driving around.

The Eastlea Bon Marche supermarket was open but only a handful of shoppers could be seen getting in and out of the shop.

Langton Nyakwenda, reporting from Chitungwiza, says all the shops and bars were closed at Zengeza 2, save for TM/Pick n Pay supermarket.

In St Mary’s, it was business as usual as most people are self-employed and went about their business. There was a long queue at OK Huruyadzo which was also open.

In Mufakose, Brighton Zhawi reports that the day was as a typical high density one,  beginning with movements as early as 5 am with people going to fetch water from nearby boreholes or any other sources they are used to. Some ignored the social distance recommendation as groups went about their businesses.

Women and children were seen with water buckets and as the day wore on, some men were hanging out in small groups. Young men were playing pool at their usual hang-outs and by mid-morning a street soccer money game – three-a-side – was organised, attracting dozens of spectators.

In Norton, the usually bustling Katanga was quiet, so was Ngoni suburb. Most shops at Govan’s were closed. The police were closely monitoring the situation, urging those who were on the streets to stay indoors.

Deborah Matabvu, in Dzviresekwa, reports that people were milling around aimlessly in the streets, with some seated in small groups at bridges.

Women were at boreholes fetching water while grocery shops were also open. Vegetable vendors, however, heeded the call to stay at home.