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Govt relaxes Covid restrictions

  • restaurants, gyms to open today
  • more activities to be allowed over time to boost economy, PM says

Bereng Mpaki

THE government has relaxed stringent restrictions to allow more economic activities to resume operations, Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro has announced.

Restaurants are some of the businesses which will from today be allowed to serve meals to sit-in customers as part of the measures aimed at breathing life into the ailing economy.

Business people will also be allowed to travel outside the country’s borders for economic reasons. Gymnasiums and live entertainment shows will also be allowed to resume operations with limited audiences providing they adhere to strict public health regulations to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The measures, which were announced at the beginning of the week, will go a long way in reviving businesses which have been forced to suspend operations ever since the government introduced stringent measures in March this year to contain the deadly virus.

Addressing the nation on Sunday evening, Dr Majoro said the plan was to gradually open up the economy by putting in place clear conditions to be followed by economic players.

“Last month we announced that restaurant owners could only sell take-aways but now we are allowing them to serve meals to sit-in customers,” Dr Majoro said, adding the food outlets would open from 8am to 9pm based on their adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.

“Migrant workers will also be allowed to travel outside the country provided they have travel permits. The entertainment industry along with parks and recreational facilities will be partially allowed to resume operating under strict conditions.

“We are aware that artistes and the creative industry have been struggling and understandably so. We will allow them to resume for a limited time and expect them to hold activities in enclosed spaces where there will be control.

“They must work with the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) before opening to ensure that their activities do not contribute to the spread of the virus.

“We have also relaxed restrictions on gymnasiums and fitness centres but they should have their activities outdoors with no more than 100 people in attendance and observing safety protocols.”

Visits to parks and recreational facilities offering outdoor activities will also be allowed.

This is in line with the government’s drive of promoting domestic tourism.

“We have seen a rise in hiking expeditions in recent times but the challenge has been the lack of meal serving facilities for participants. However, today we have allowed restaurants to start serving them meals.”

He said the decision to relax restrictions was partly informed by the neighbouring South Africa which has also opened its borders to international travellers with effect from today.

“We are expecting South Africa to open up part of its economy on 1 October 2020 (today) and we are also going to open up certain sectors of our economy to align ourselves.

“The idea is to gradually open up the economy to move back to normal levels. However, we will be disappointed if the infection rate increases as a result of the relaxation of restrictions as our intention is to study how our decisions will affect the spread of Covid-19.”

Dr Majoro also called on economic players to ensure that their consumers obey the public health regulations aimed at fighting Covid-19.

“We would also like to appeal to the operators to assist us in ensuring that consumers of their services observe the safety protocols to protect themselves,” Dr Majoro said.

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