By Alois Vinga
BUSINESS experts have rejected the latest round of strict Covid-19 lockdown measures reintroduced by the government this saying the restrictions are a blow to both formal companies and the informal sector.
The remarks come after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga Saturday evening reintroduced stricter lockdown measures, which come into full effect Tuesday, and will see all workers, save for essential services, not allowed to go to work during a 30-day period.
Under the new measures, only essential services will remain open with supermarkets being allowed to operate only between 8 am to 3 pm. Gatherings of not more than 30 people at funerals will be allowed, while weddings, funerals, gyms, restaurants, bars have been banned.
Reacting to the new directives through separate interviews conducted by NewZimbabwe.com Business, past president at the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC), Devine Ndlhukula said while Covid-19 is a reality, the measures will leave companies on dire-straits.
“The measures will have a negative impact on business because they are being implemented without adequate consultations. Operating hours of between 8 am and 3 pm are very short. Apart from that some workers commute to and from distant places which will be difficult to leave home and return between 6 am to 6 pm,” she said.
Ndlhukula bemoaned businesses had to endure fixed costs during the first lockdown introduced in March last year, and have been slapped with second measures just at the time when recovery from the first wave of losses was beginning to be witnessed.
Economist Prosper Chitambara said the impact on new restrictions on businesses will be “very adverse” and urged authorities to reconsider their decision urgently.
“Businesses must be allowed to continue operating under new normal Covid-19 measures while clear social protection measures to cushion the vulnerable groups are put in place. Risky areas which can spread the virus like bars should have been targeted. The informal sector which employs the majority in the country will be hardest hit,” he said.
Chitambara said the 30-day lockdown period was long and suggested that at least 14 days, which is normally the pandemic’s gestation period could be enough.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) chief executive Sekai Kuvarika underscored the importance to minimise the spread of the virus while respecting a multi-sectoral approach.
“When an announcement on the postponing of the opening of schools was made everyone accepted it on the basis of understanding the gravity of the situation at hand. The virus is a reality and while we welcome the measures there is need for an effective multi-sector approach in dealing with the pandemic, “she said.