By Robert Tapfumaneyi
GOVERNMENT has allowed restaurants to open for sit-in service while maintaining 50% sitting capacity.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa made the announcement at a post-cabinet media brief in Harare Tuesday.
“Restaurants are now allowed to open for sit-ins at 50% sitting capacity, under strict adherence to Covid-19 guidelines,” said Mutsvangwa.
“Those found breaking the restrictions will be closed immediately.”
The announcement is likely to be received with joy as restaurant owners were dismayed by government’s decision to maintain a ban on customer sit-ins under the then Covid-19 measures when most sectors were opened two weeks ago.
Restaurant Operators Association of Zimbabwe (RAOZ) leadership recently told NewZimbabwe.com that its members have been paying full licence fees, despite being closed or only partially open for takeaways.
“In fact, most restaurants are faced with full costs related to rentals, wages and other inputs, but we have no income, while those that are able to do takeaways report income of between eight and 20 percent of pre-lockdown levels,” RAOZ president Bongai Zamchiya said then.
In her address Tuesday, Minister Mutsvangwa also said that in order to utilise the existing capacity as agreed at the last meeting, cabinet resolved that Stage Two of Phase One of the vaccination roll-out will include tobacco merchants and their workers, teachers and hospitality industry workers, and this should commence immediately.
She also told the media that as of 12 March, 2021, Zimbabwe’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 36 423, with 33 996 recoveries and 1 496 deaths.
“The recovery rate is 93%, with 34 722 cases attributed to local transmission,” she said.
“There are 931 active cases, and the cumulative number of infected Health Care Workers has risen from 4 008 to 4 210 with 18 deaths.
“Cabinet noted that preparations for the opening of schools have reached an advanced stage with examination classes having opened on 15 March 2021.”
She added, “Non-examination classes will open on 22 March 2021 as scheduled.
“Standard operating procedures are being emphasized, particularly regarding the availability of potable water at every school.”