Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Zimbabwe extends nationwide lockdown indefinitely, as of May 16. Other travel and business operation restrictions remain in place.

This alert affects Zimbabwe

This alert began 17 May 2020 09:20 GMT and is scheduled to expire 01 Jun 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Affected Area(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; likely increased security; possible clashes

President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a statement May 16, noting that the nationwide lockdown, initially imposed March 30, would be extended indefinitely to contain the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The restrictions will be reviewed every two weeks. Under the lockdown, all persons must remain at home unless they are buying essential medicine or food. Essential workers are excluded from the order.

Other measures recently imposed and/or adjusted include:

  • 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. Zimbabweans and non-national permit holders will be allowed to return to the country. All arrivals in the country are subject to a 21-day self-quarantine.
  • While most informal markets will remain shut, some commercial operations can reopen, providing rapid testing and observing social distancing guidelines. Opening hours are 0800-1630.
  • Ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.
  • Intercity travel is banned.
  • Face masks are mandatory for all persons in public spaces.
  • Persons showing symptoms of COVID-19 will be placed in a government-run facility.
  • Indefinite closure of schools, religious centers, gyms, recreational facilities, and bars.

The authorities will almost certainly deploy additional security forces to manage the lockdown. Persons not abiding by the orders may be subject to arrest. Anti-lockdown protests remain a possibility. Should gatherings occur, clashes with the security forces are possible. In addition, confrontations between persons defying the lockdown and the authorities are also possible. Shortages of basic goods, already an ongoing concern in Zimbabwe, may be further exacerbated by health screening-related delays at ports of entry and on major routes in the country. All regulations are subject to change at short notice.

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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