by Charmaine Ngatjiheue
PRESIDENT Hage Geingob this afternoon announced that Namibia would gradually reopen from Tuesday next week, as the country moves into stage two of adopted restrictions meant to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Announcing post-lockdown strategies at State House this afternoon (Thursday), Geingob said the adopted restrictions are in line with global guidelines on national responses to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, Namibia reported 16 confirmed infections with the virus, with eight cases still being active. The country’s number of infections has remained static on 16 since 5 April.
Namibia has since 28 March been on a lockdown, which started with the lockdown of Erongo and Khomas regions, including the local authority areas of Okahandja and Rehoboth. A nationwide lockdown was extended from 18 April, and is set to lapse at the end of 4 May.
As the country reopens, the six-month state of emergency declared on 17 March will remain in force and may be extended, subject to the changing situation in the country, the president said.
The adopted stages are stage one, which is the lockdown in effect for 38 days and lapsing on 4 May at midnight; stage two, during which the country will gradually reopen under strict precautions, from Tuesday 5 May to 2 June; stage three will see more moderate precautions and could be in force from 2 June to 30 June; and the final stage, introducing the ‘new normal’, could come into effect from 30 June and last until the end of the state of emergency, Geingob announced.
He added that each stage would have an average observance period of 28 days, which is twice the length of the incubation period of the novel coronavirus.
The president said during stage two, people will be required to wear face masks in public spaces and the government will assist vulnerable persons to acquire masks.
He added that people would be permitted to travel domestically between regions and within towns and cities without restrictions, but the country’s borders will remain closed for non-Namibians.
“Returning Namibians will be permitted to re-enter the country, subject to screening at points of entry and supervised quarantine for 14 days. Businesses and productive activities, unless prohibited, will be permitted to reopen, subject to responsible personal and organisational conduct and in compliance with the prescribed health and hygiene guidelines,” he said.
BUSINESS TO OPERATE
Businesses that will be allowed to operate from Tuesday next week, are:
1. Shopping malls and retail outlets;
2. Restaurants on a takeaway basis as before;
3. Kapana traders only for takeaway and private consumption;
4. Beauty salons, hair dressers and barbers, subject to proper personal protective equipment;
5. Laundromats and tailors, subject to proper personal protective equipment.
Businesses that should remain closed and activities that will still not be allowed, are:
1. Liquor outlets, bars and shebeens;;
2. Gambling houses and nightclubs;
3. Theatres and cinemas
4. Entertainment events and concerts;
5. Gyms and exercise centres;
6. Contact sports and sporting events;
7. Seminars, conferences, workshops and summits.
This means the buying and selling of alcoholic drinks with an alcohol content of three percent or more per volume will remain prohibited throughout the country.
The progression from one stage to another will depend on developments with respect to the coronavirus cases recorded in the country, and the details of stages may change, Geingob said. “As such, before we move into a subsequent stage, review will be undertaken to enable government to agree on what activities will be allowed,” he said.