Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT has further reopened the economy by approving inter-city travel and allowing the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID), Registrar-General’s Office, Immigration Department and National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ) to resume services.
On Monday, Cabinet extended operating hours of businesses from 6.30AM to 6.30PM and is also working on reopening the Victoria Falls International Airport following the relaxation of travel restrictions.
On the same day, pupils in Cambridge examination classes also returned to school under strict health guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Government has said the easing of lockdown restrictions is aimed at balancing between economic interests and the protection of life.
Following the reopening of intercity travel, transport operators are now required to first register with the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development. This is to ensure that they strictly comply with Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for their sector in line with WHO guidelines and Covid-19 regulations.
At the inception of the Covid-19 lockdown in March, Government suspended intercity travel and banned all long-distance buses from operating. This was to ensure that infections in hotspots could at least be isolated in one centre.
Only haulage trucks ferrying and distributing goods in essential and exempted businesses were permitted to travel from one city to another and even beyond borders.
Government has now approved inter-city travel in view of the re-opening of schools for examination classes to allow smooth movement of candidates and the generality of travelers.
In addition to that, all employees in the tourism sector are required to comply with the Covid-19 regulations just like in other approved services. Only international travellers are required to provide a 48-hour negative Covid-19 certificate.
In order to facilitate access to critical documentation from the Registrar-General’s Office during the Covid-19 induced lockdown, Cabinet has approved the reopening of all registry centres to offer essential services such as the issuance of births and death certificates, national registrations as well as passports.
Measures are being put in place to ensure that operations at the RG’s Office, which are usually characterised by overcrowding are in line with the Ministry of Health and Child Care and WHO protocols in order to curtail the transmission of Covid-19.
Cabinet further authorised the partial reopening of the Department of Immigration’s client service centre for the purpose of processing short term investor work and student permits, issuance of visas at ports of entry and resume enforcement operations through the compliance section.
The NMMZ will also be opened to allow visitors access to national monuments that include the National Heroes Acre and museums.
In her post Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced the reopening of inter-city travel, saying it will facilitate smooth movement of examination candidates and other travellers.
“Cabinet reiterates that despite the measures taken today to further open up the economy, the threat from Covid-19 is still real and citizens should continue to religiously adhere to the Covid-19 containment measures,” the Minister said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said in view of the re-opening of schools for examination classes, the tourism and hospitality industry and aviation sectors and the need to afford the working-class time to attend gymnasia, Cabinet approved the extension of business operating hours including those of gyms from 6.30AM to 6.30PM.
While announcing that working hours had been extended on Monday, Minister Mutsvangwa said the economy is being gradually opened up.
She said work is advanced in the preparations for the re-opening of the Victoria Falls International Airport and the readiness of other ports of entry is under assessment.