President Edgar Lungu has opened restaurants, cinemas, gymnasiums, casinos and allowed pupils in examination classes to go back to school, a move he said is meant to strike “a delicate balance between saving lives and restoring the economy” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March, Mr. Lungu in a rare televised address was adamant that his government was on top of things and urged everyone to adhere to laid down measures to combat the disease. Before then, the government had shut down primary and secondary schools, colleges and other institutions of higher learning indefinitely to help curb the spread of the deadly virus.
The president said the decision to easy the measures has been taken after studying the trend, “which show that the number of infections recorded after testing in communities has remained generally low”.
“It can be generally said that this pandemic, in the case of Zambia, is relatively different from what other nations are experiencing, where their infection and death rates have been much higher, said Mr. Lungu.
Mr. Lungu said schools, for examination classes, will open on 1st June 2020 and directed the Ministry of Health, Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit (DMMU) to ensure that face masks and hand sanitizers are provided to all schools and health centers for use and distribution.
The measures are for a period of seven to fourteen days and may be reviewed any time as the pandemic evolves.
He urged Zambians to learn to live with the “new normal” like they have lived with other diseases such as, malaria, HIV/Aids, and tuberculosis, provided there is adherence to the prescribed health guidelines and regulations, such as wearing face masks, observing social distancing, hand washing and sanitising and ensuring high levels of hygiene.
Mr. Lungu appealed to event managers, operators of internet cafes, hotels and lodges who voluntarily closed as a result of COVID-19 to consider reopening while observing health guidelines. He however, said bars and taverns will remain closed.
He said, as a result of the measures introduced, government has experienced reduced revenue, thereby, impacting negatively on the financing of national programmes, a situation which if left unchecked would plunge the economy into the worst crisis.
The President thanked frontline workers for their hard work and directed the Minster of Health to ensure that healthcare workers are safe from acquiring COVID 19 and other infections.
Zambia has recorded a total of 167 positive cases of COVID-19 since the first one was reported on 18th March this year