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Critical industries, services exempt from lockdown

by Staff reporter
30 Mar 2020 at 08:12hrs | Views
AS the national lockdown begins today to avert the spread of Covid-19, Government has said that critical industries and essential services will remain operational to ensure uninterrupted supply of basics and adequate support to the frontline health sector players.

President Mnangagwa announced the 21-day national lockdown on Friday as Zimbabwe joins the international community in the fight against the global pandemic, which has infected more than half a million people globally and killed above 25 000. Zimbabwe has so far recorded seven Covid-19 positive cases, one of them fatal.

In a statement yesterday, outlining the guidelines on critical services operating during the national lockdown period, Industry and Commerce Minister, Dr Sekai Nzenza, said key industries and services will need to remain open to support the health sector and to ensure minimal disruption in critical goods and services.

"All essential service providers, producers and their staff in the following supply chains must remain operational; electricity distribution, water supply, sewerage and sanitation, supply of fuel, LP Gas and other industrial gases, ICT — data centres, basic telecoms, fibre optic infrastructure, towers and antennae," said Dr Nzenza.

"All key providers of communication services, ICT support services for critical industries and for the banking sector should remain open."

In view of the need to buttress the health and safety of citizens, the minister said critical services and productive activities will also continue operating as usual. These include those players involved in the manufacturing and distribution of health-related products, supplies, devices, equipment and medicines as well as essential inputs thereto.

Agricultural and food supply related operations, including farming, veterinary and phytosanitary service providers, pest control services, chemical and fertilizer production and distribution also fall under the same category.

The list also covers food, beverages, poultry and dairy products including manufacturing, processing and distribution facilities for the value chain, manufacturing and importation of basic commodities, manufacturing, processing and distribution of sanitisation products including soaps, detergents, disinfectants and sanitisers.

Dr Nzenza said production and distribution of sanitary products including sanitary pads, cotton wool and tissues, warehousing, transport and logistics for food and essential products, and health related goods, would also continue uninterrupted.

The same guidelines apply to production of packaging products that are critical in the movement and distribution of the above goods. Similarly, the minister said food outlets — retail and wholesale shops for food and essential products would remain operational.

She clarified that essential products such as toilet paper, cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, personal hygiene products, bedding and clothing, and essential supplies for those taking care of the sick and maintain the general public's well-being would continue being produced as normal. All activities for exporters of manufactured goods and horticultural produce as well as funeral parlours and support services would not be interrupted.

As alluded to by President Mnangagwa on Friday, Dr Nzenza said the primary objective of the measures was to protect lives of workers in these critical industries by adhering to the strictest occupational health and safety techniques under the circumstances.

"Businesses, which will be operating during this period are encouraged to put in place workplace prevention and early detection protocols to protect the employees and to mitigate the effects of the virus," she said.

"The Ministry of Industry and Commerce in conjunction with the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe will constitute a taskforce to monitor the price movements and availability of essential goods in addition to other consumer protection mechanisms during this period."

In order to enable efficient services in the fight against Covid-19, Government has said that all healthcare related services, be they public or private, professional and artisan services, essential and critical business continuity services, financial and insurance services, communication and media as well as security services would remain operational.

"The enforcement of a nationwide lockdown is an extension of measures being implemented by Government to mitigate and prevent the effects of Covid-19. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce will be working closely with key stakeholders to ensure that critical goods and services are rendered during this period," said Dr Nzenza.

Source - chronicle

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