by Okeri Ngutjinazo and Charmaine Ngatjiheue
THE government has imposed a curfew on the Erongo and Khomas regions starting today, following a spike in Covid-19 cases in these regions.
The curfew means no movement of people will be permitted in the restricted areas between 20h00 to 05h00 daily for the next 16 days – unless they are in possession of an authorising permit as an essential service provider.
The curfew will lapse on 28 August midnight.
The government is set to release full regulations on the curfew, including penalties for those found to be contravening regulations, today.
The last time a curfew was imposed in the country was in 1999 after 13 people were killed in an attack by the Caprivi Liberation Army during a secession attempt.
Former president Sam Nujoma then ordered a curfew at Katima Mulilo to restrict movement at night as part of a state of emergency imposed on the region.
Minister of health and social services Kalumbi Shangula yesterday said to enforce the curfew, checkpoints will be introduced at specified locations within the municipalities and on the parameters of restricted areas.
Shangula said the issuance of permits for travel to and from restricted areas to attend social events such as weddings and church events is strictly prohibited.
However, permits will be issued for travel to attend funerals of immediate family members, which include spouses, parents, siblings and children.
Everyone travelling from restricted areas will be required to submit to mandatory supervised quarantine for seven days upon arrival at their destinations.
Minister of justice Yvonne Dausab yersterday said only essential and critical workers are allowed on the street during curfew hours.
She said everyone else must ensure they are home by 20h00.
Dausab said the curfew applies to all six restricted local authorities – Windhoek, Okahandja, Rehoboth, Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis.
She said law-enforcement agencies will make a map of curfew checkpoints available.
“Taxi drivers transporting people who provide essential services can be considered in the new regulations,” she said.
Public and social gatherings are prohibited with the exception of work meetings and Cabinet and parliament sessions, the minister said.
She said institutions should, however, adhere to health regulations while ensuring regular disinfection.
Vendors are allowed to operate and expected to keep a register, and to ensure social distancing, sanitising and the wearing of masks.
The minister said the government has not decided how to deal with people who knowingly spread Covid-19, because the state of emergency regulations provide a framework within which to operate.
“Anything within the framework of a certain regulation would be dealt with by that specific regulation. On conviction, one is liable for N$2 000 or six months’ imprisonment or both. In the instance even if the regulations come out at midnight and there is nothing specific about people allegedly spreading the virus, we would have to revert to common law, criminal law or even civil law if someone has sufficient evidence that the virus was passed on to them deliberately,” she said.
Namibia has reverted to stage 3 of state of emergency regulations, since the country now has more than 3 000 Covid-19 cases.
President Hage Geingob yesterday said while this will have far-reaching implications economically, it is important to safeguard lives.
“We are aware that the economy is hurting and this is why we have to take such decisions. All of us must take responsibility to protect ourselves and families,” he said.
Leader of the Popular Democratic Movement McHenry Venaani yesterday said he does not think the introduction of a curfew would address the spread of the novel coronavirus, adding the government mismanaged the entire process.
He said curfews are generally dangerous and frustrate people.
“However, there has been a serious spike in the number of cases and it is a dangerous situation … Rapid testing had to be done before the cases became too many,” he said.