Government on Friday tightened screws on intercity travel with residents of Chitungwiza and Norton now required to produce proof of essential service at police checkpoints to be allowed to travel into Harare City.
Inter-city travel ban now includes all travel between any urban authorities, the Government announced in a statement before gazetting the pronouncement on Friday as part of health lockdown regulations.
Permanent Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Nick Mangwana said Government had noted with concern that in spite of the ban on intercity travel, some people are still travelling between cities for various non-essential reasons.
This has resulted in a worrying surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, he said.
As at 16 July 2021, Zimbabwe had 81 168 confirmed cases, including 51 139 recoveries and 2 520 deaths. To date, a total of 1 096 002 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The public is reminded that under the extended Level 4 lockdown announced by His Excellency, President Mnangagwa on July 13, 2021, intercity travel is prohibited,” continued Mangwana in a statement.
“Statutory Instrument 198 of 2021 defines intercity travel as travel between any cities or between municipalities or towns established or deemed to have been established in terms of the Urban Councils Act. (But) it does not include travel ‘between an area under the jurisdiction of a local board and a city, municipality or town that is within the same council area as the local board’.
“As an example, movement between Chitungwiza and Harare or Norton and Harare is considered intercity travel and therefore prohibited,” said Mangwana.
“Accordingly, law enforcement agents will be ensuring that intercity travel will only be permitted for those providing an essential service or travelling for a humanitarian reason such as seeking medical treatment.
“Proof of provision of essential service may be requested at police checkpoints,” he added.
“Regarding intra-city travel (movement within a city), members of the public are urged to only leave their homes if they are going to provide an essential service, going to businesses permitted to operate under Level 4, or seeking food or medication within a 5km radius,” Mangwana said, adding:
“Measures including but not limited to police checkpoints, will be intensified to ensure that members of the public comply with the measures.”
Government’s move has sparked outcry on social media, from residents in Norton and Chitungwiza who travel daily to Harare for varying businesses arguing that the decision lacked data and science.
Mangwana hit back saying “the import of (Statutory Instrument) SI198 of 2021 is to ban Intercity Travel. Yesterday, we explained what “intercity travel” meant in terms of the law. The Government is not trying to make lives hard for the people but to keep all of us alive. We are currently dying in our large numbers. Traveling less helps.”