By Leopold Munhende/Bulawayo Correspondent
THE Zimbabwe Republic Police has urged the public to stay at home as a government imposed Covid-19 induced national lockdown period begins this Tuesday.
In a statement Monday, police said they will not hesitate to arrest anyone found in a public place without or while improperly wearing a mask and not practising social distancing.
Health Minister and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga weekend announced a month-long lockdown period to try and contain rising Covid-19 infections that scaled the 4 000 figure nationally in December alone.
The measures include a 6pm-6am curfew, a ban on intercity travel, ban on informal businesses and international land travel, among some of the measures.
According to the new measures, only workers employed under sectors designated as essential services to the country can go to work and would be allowed to pass through police checkpoints across the country.
“The ZRP reiterates that only employees in the essential services sector such as health, food distribution, bank institutions, mining services, communication and telecommunications, agricultural production will be allowed to pass through checkpoints and roadblocks.
“The public is therefore implored to take heed of the government’s Covid-19 national lockdown level four measures restrictions and stay at home except to access food and medicines,” reads the statement by police spokesperson Paul Nyathi.
He added, “Police will effect arrests on anyone who will be found in public places such as supermarkets, banks, pick-up points and others without wearing or improperly putting on masks and not practising social distancing.
“Members of the public are urged to cooperate with the police and other security services to ensure that health, safety and security of all Zimbabweans is heightened during the second wave of this deadly Covid-19 pandemic.”
Police in Bulawayo also vowed to go hard on locals who decide to violate the fresh lockdown measures.
Speaking through a loud hailer during a mobile public Covid-19 lockdown conscientisation outreach in the city Monday, Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Abednico Ncube said the “faint hearted” should not dare come into the CBD Tuesday as soldiers and the police para-military Support Unit will be in full force to deal with any unauthorised entry in the city centre.
“Tomorrow (Tuesday) those who are brave coming into town will face the consequences.
“Soldiers and Support Unit will be waiting for them. Everyone should stay at home except those who are essential service providers,” warned Ncube.
During the previous lockdown, soldiers and police officers have been accused of violating citizens’ rights.
Meanwhile, consumers in Bulawayo Monday embarked on panic buying ahead of the lockdown.
Most shops, banks and pharmacies in the city were characterised by long and winding queues as residents desperately tried to stock on essential foodstuffs in their homes.
“I am afraid that police will not allow me at roadblocks to come to town to buy food stuffs.
“I would rather queue here in town and buy all basics than to buy in low density suburb shops which are very expensive,” said a consumer who only identified herself as Hilda Ncube.