by Ndanki Kahiurika
BY the end of day today, the partial lockdown which was announced earlier this week by president Hage Geingob, will come into force.
The Namibian police has warned members of the public to stick to the announced measures, or risk arrests.
Covid-19 taskforce leader, Dr Bernard Haufiku yesterday reiterated this order, saying any person who tries to go past the roadblocks by force after the lockdown will be punished for going against the regulations.
Haufiku had an engagement with the media and other stakeholders in Windhoek yesterday, where he also clarified the media’s role, citing them as part of essential services.
The lockdown, announced by president Hage Geingob on Sunday, aims to stem the spread of Covid-19 and would come into effect from midnight today until 16 April 2020.
So far the country has seven confirmed cases of Covid-19 although tests on a few others are pending.
Haufiku also clarified that the lockdown would only come into effect at Friday midnight, going into Saturday.
According to him, Rehoboth and Okahandja would be treated as part of the Khomas region for the purpose of the lockdown, as there are people who are part of essential services who commute from either town.
To him, essential services include health, food, cleaning, water and electricity, and fire brigade services.
The former health minister said people will not be allowed to move between towns within their regions unless they are part of essential services.
He said there are also exceptions for people with medical emergencies whose names would be given in advance at the roadblocks so that they can only produce their identification.
Referring to the issue of stranded people at the Hosea Kutako International Airport yesterday, where chaos erupted after an order was given to detain them, Haufiku said such order was given without proper communication.
He said, having more than 10 people at a single gathering is not permitted. As such, restaurants, food places and bars have to be strictly monitored to ensure that this rule is abided by.
The former minister believes the virus can be contained because Namibia has vast and open spaces.
There are various clusters from vital ministries such as health, immigration and finance, to work with during this lockdown, he said.
The labour ministry, health ministry and attorney general are coming up with a framework to minimise job losses, as a result of the lockdown, he said.
He cited the examples of vendors and those who have informal transport businesses between towns, whom he said might not be able to earn money.
“Maybe we need to consider cash transfers. Maybe he is a taxi driver and makes his earnings transporting people between towns. If, for example, he makes N$3 000, we can give him N$1 000,” he said.
He said on the aspect of those working in the mines, there is a need to come up with a solution, as some mines have communicated that they cannot close down unless it will be indefinitely.
Haufiku pointed to the need to reconsider the operation of shebeens and bars until 18h00 daily, as this means there might be more people during the day than anticipated.
“What happens before 18h00?” he asked, adding, “We say no more than 10 [people] and that could be enough because they also cannot shut down completely.”