ALL 14 regions of the country will on Monday migrate to stage 3 of the lockdown exit strategy for the next 28 days – except for Walvis Bay, which will go back to stage 1 until 8 June.
President Hage Geingob announced this yesterday during a media briefing at State House.
The complete lockdown of Walvis Bay is effective immediately following two concurrent Covid-19 cases in the town.
The observance period will be monitored weekly and may be extended.
This is because case number 21 and 22, both from Walvis Bay, have been in contact with over 100 people between them. The extent of secondary contacts remains unknown.
Case number 21 is a truck driver (43) who had allegedly contravened quarantine regulations and visited various businesses.
Case number 22 is a fisherman (63) who had gone to the Democratic Republic of Congo. He too came in contact with various people, including at a local Walvis Bay hospital.
The president said the Ministry of Health and Social Services will identify, trace and test those who have come into contact with the two confirmed cases.
Health minister Kalumbi Shangula said Walvis Bay is a major destination for travellers from high-risk countries.
He said stage 1 regulations will include the closure of schools and higher education institutions, the prohibition of public gatherings of more than 10 people, the banning of travelling without a permit as well as the sale of alcohol, and the restriction of movement.
Moreover, only critical service providers will be allowed to operate.
“This approach is consistent with the national Covid-19 exit strategy, which provides for localised responses to contain and suppress the spread of Covid-19 in our country,” he said.
Minister of Justice Yvonne Dausab confirmed the coastal town will have to adhere to stage 1 lockdown regulations effective immediately.
She said the state of emergency remains intact and is valid.
Attorney general Festus Mbandeka urged transport companies to ensure their truck drivers adhere to quarantine regulations.
He said the owners of the companies would also be held liable for the lack of compliance by truck drivers.
Mbandeka said those people who need to travel from Walvis Bay would need to acquire permits from authorised officers.
The country has endured stage 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown, which lasted 38 days, followed by stage 2, which expires on Monday, 1 June, at midnight.
Geingob said Cabinet met on Tuesday, evaluated data and assessed the country’s readiness to respond to the global pandemic.
He said Namibia’s health is first priority, while praising Namibians and healthcare workers, among others, for adhering to the regulations thus far.
“I was aware that the lockdown is not easy to endure, as they infringe on our rights as human beings, but I am glad to note that as Namibians, we have adopted a selfless approach and understood that to win the war against this invisible enemy, we need to make sacrifices that go far and beyond the norm,” the president said.
Shangula said stage 3 involves the relaxation of some regulations, such as gatherings of not more than 50 people being allowed.
Social distancing will be enforced at 1,5 metres, while masks are still required when in public spaces, he said.
Shangula said businesses are required to keep a register of customers to assist with contact tracing.
Shangula said early childhood development centres, primary and secondary schools, as well as vocational training will resume a face-to-face medium of instruction, with the daily screening of students.
The minister said the school feeding programme will continue.
According to Shangula, Grade 11 and 12 pupils wiil go back to school on 3 June until the end of the year.
Vocational training classes will start on 8 June until 18 December, and pre-primary centres will commence on 22 June, he said.
Grades 7 and 9 will start their schooling on 6 July, while those in Grades 4 to 8, as well as Grade 10 will return to schools on 20 July.
BORDERS AND BUSINESSES
Namibia’s points of entry will remain closed and the restriction of cross-border movement remains in place, with the exception of the transportation of goods, Shangula said.
The ministry has put measures in place to avoid the spread of Covid-19 when it comes to truck drivers, he said.
Shangula said not all businesses will be allowed to resume activities in full.
“Restaurants, cafés and kapana traders may reopen for sit-down dining, but the number of those allowed inside must be restricted per square metre. Restaurants may open for pre-booked customers and no walk-in clients are permitted,” he said.
Food buffets may be handled by staff only and there should be no sharing of pens in completing customer registers.
ALCOHOL BAN LIFTED
Shangula said alcohol may only be sold between 12h00 and 18h00 except on Sundays, while buying and selling is only permitted for takeaways.
Consuming alcohol is only allowed at home and not in public.
He said only holders of valid liquor licences will be permitted to sell alcohol.
“Night clubs, gambling houses and casinos are high risk and will not be permitted to resume activity during stage 3,” he said.
Shangula warned that those violating the regulations will suffer fines because they are punishable offences.