Severity: Critical Alert

Exit/Entry: Nighttime curfew imposed in Zimbabwe from July 21. Business hours revised. Travel and business restrictions remain in place.

  • Alert Begins: 22 Jul 2020 12:06 PM UTC
  • Alert Expires: 05 Aug 2020 11:59 PM UTC
  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Affected Area(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant business and travel disruptions; likely increased security; possible clashes

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced July 21 that a 1800-0600 nightly curfew would be implemented nationwide, amid a rising number of cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Authorities have also revised business operating hours to 0800-1500, with the exception of unspecified businesses providing essential services.

Existing restrictive measures include:


  • All inbound and outbound commercial air travel remains suspended. All land borders remain indefinitely closed to passenger traffic. 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.


  • All persons have to remain indoors, except when looking for essential provisions or health services. Workers in businesses permitted to operate under current restrictions are exempt from the order, as are essential workers.


  • Ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.


  • Intercity travel is banned.


  • Facemasks 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. Opposition groups claim that increased restrictions and the nighttime curfew are an attempt to stifle increased opposition activity ahead of a nationwide anti-government protest July 31. Hundreds of people were reportedly arrested for lockdown violations July 17-20. Should protest 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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