Govt Makes U-Turn, Exempts Workers From Compulsory COVID-19 Tests

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By Alois Vinga

THE government has made a surprise u-turn on a recent directive on Zimbabwean companies to carry out compulsory COVID-19 tests on their employees before resuming operations.

This follows the easing of lockdown regulations by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week to allow the reopening of industry and commerce.

Companies have since been granted permission to rely on temperature checks to screen employees for virus symptoms.

The latest development was confirmed by Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa during this week’s Post-Cabinet Press briefing held at the Munhumutapa government offices.

“Government has decided that, pending companies acquiring the required test kits to test their employees, companies will be permitted to open subject to the following conditions being met in relation to their employees: temperature tests upon entering work premises,” she said.

Mutsvangwa said each company should also have hand sanitisers while every employee was expected to wear a face mask and observe social distancing.

Before the revised conditions, the government had made it mandatory for every company that had reopened this week to buy COVID-19 test kits and screen all employees for the virus.

However, the business sector had protested saying the requirements were unsustainable as medical centres with the COVID-19 screening facilities were demanding US$25 per person.

“In the event that an employee has a temperature which is above the Ministry of Health requirements, then such employee shall not be admitted to the workplace,” Mutsvangwa said.

“For the avoidance of doubt, companies shall remain under an obligation to subject all their employees to the rapid results tests as soon as reasonably possible during the period of the declaration of the COVID-19 virus.”