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Govt spells out rules for economic reopening

MBONGENI MGUNI
Dr Malaki Tshipayagae in parliament PIC. PRESSPHOTO
Most business activities, excluding the liquor and tobacco trade, are set to reopen starting from May 8, 2020 under stringent conditions, which include companies satisfying the Director of Health Services that they can screen for and prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

An Extraordinary Gazette made available this morning, ahead of Parliament’s sitting this afternoon, indicates that President Mokgweetsi Masisi is proposing several amendments that will see a ‘phased’ reopening of the economy, including schools and some measure of movement. 

Parliament is set to debate the proposed amendments this afternoon in a special sitting.

According to the amendments, between May 8 and midnight May 20, businesses, including schools, may operate if they satisfy the Health Services director that they are able to check the temperatures of everyone accessing their premises and prevent those with temperatures of 37.4 degrees Celsius and above.

Businesses and schools are also required to show the director that they are able to regularly disinfect their premises and close when a coronavirus case is suspected.

However, the proposed amendments show that even with the conditions satisfied, the reopening of businesses and schools lies in the hands of the Health Services director, Dr Malaki Tshipayagae.

“The Director of Health Services may, in consultation with the ministry responsible for licensing the trades or businesses concerned, direct that trades or businesses open in a phased manner, and under such conditions, including operating capacity, as may be specified by the Director in consultation with the ministry,” the Gazette reads.

“The Director of Health Services may, in consultation with the ministry responsible for basic education or the ministry responsible for tertiary education, as the case may be, direct that schools open in a phased manner, and under such conditions as may be specified by the director in consultation with the ministry.” 

Wearing of masks remains mandatory throughout the period “until

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further notice”.

The President is also proposing between May 8 and May 20, the restrictions on movement of people travelling between villages, towns, cities and districts, be relaxed to allow those attending funerals of immediate family members and those leaving their homes to access farms, masimo and meraka. The movement will, however, still be subject to the issuance of a permit and ‘immediate family’ is defined as “a spouse, son, daughter, sibling or parent”.

The new amendments propose that the country be divided into nine zones, with permits only required when crossing these zones. Until May 21, non-essential travel between zones will be prohibited but after that any movement allowed is under strict conditions.

These conditions include businesses, places of worship and funeral hosts maintaining registers containing personal contact details and making these available to the Health Services director and law enforcement officials, for the purposes of contact tracing. 

Places of worship will limit their services to once per week and ensure congregants do not exceed 10 in number. 

The proposed amendments also indicate that all Batswana and residents returning to the country will be required to bear the costs of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

From May 21, restaurants and takeaways will also then be allowed to operate from 8am to 10pm, as opposed to the current 10am to 10pm schedule. The sale of liquor and cigarettes for now remains restricted. However, where the current regulations say the restriction is for the duration of the six-month State of Emergency, the proposed amendments now say “until further notice,” suggesting an earlier return.



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