Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Authorities in Zimbabwe extend existing nationwide lockdown through at least May 19 but ease some restrictions due to COVID-19 activity.

This alert affects Zimbabwe

This alert began 01 May 2020 17:19 GMT and is scheduled to expire 30 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Affected Area(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Through at least May 19
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; increased security

On May 1, the Zimbabwean government extended the existing nationwide lockdown through at least May 19 as part of its efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). However, authorities announced that they would ease restrictions on some businesses. While most informal markets will remain shut, some commercial operations can reopen, provided that they provide rapid testing and observe social distancing guidelines. Authorities also introduced curfew hours of 1500-0800.

The lockdown, which was initially imposed March 30, includes the suspension of all public activities and closure of most nonessential businesses. Other provisions within the order include:

  • All residents are required to wear face masks while in public.
  • Ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.
  • Most businesses to close, unless involved in manufacturing, supplying, or providing essential goods or services.
  • Public buses can now operate but must ensure social distancing guidelines and regularly engage in temperature checks and sterilization operations. However, taxis and other public small modes of transport are still banned from operating.
  • Indefinite closure of schools, religious centers, gyms, recreational facilities, and bars.
  • All returning residents and international travelers will be subject to 21 days of mandatory quarantine.
  • Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) will be deployed to assist in enforcement.

Zimbabwean authorities suspended all inbound and outbound commercial air travel, and closed all land borders to passenger traffic indefinitely on March 23. Cargo and freight shipments remain unaffected. All public events and gatherings were banned for 60 days starting March 16.

Background and Analysis
Zimbabwe's travel restrictions and preventive measures correspond with similar actions other governments are taking globally in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

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