COVID-19 measures extended to 2021

Andrew Kathindi

President Hage Geingob has extended the period under which current COVID-19 regulations are observed to 25 January 2021.

This comes after the current set of measures to fight COVID-19, which came into force on 17 October, will expire at midnight, 30 November 2020.

Following the lapse of the State of Emergency in September, the Health Minister, Kalumbi Shangula was empowered, under the Public and Environmental Act to make further adjustments to measures even after the end of the State of Emergency, which could not be extended beyond six months without cabinet approval.

“I observed, with great concern, that we are becoming complacent to the danger and are not adhering to the prescribed Health & Hygiene Protocols. We cannot afford to relax now, we must rather intensify the fight against COVID-19,” said Geingob, adding “As the pandemic evolves, our response must the adjusted accordingly.”

Under the new dispensation, public gatherings will remain at 200 people while the sale of alcohol by shebeens, bars and nightclubs has been extended to midnight, where it was previously at 10pm.

“Shopping outlets and businesses will no longer be required to keep registers of persons visiting their premises. Registers should, however, be maintained at public events such a weddings, funerals, religious gatherings, sports and entertainment events.”

Meanwhile, all non-Namibian travelers arriving in Namibia are required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from the country of departure, which is not older than 72 hours.

This comes as the country’s tourism sector has continued to struggle to bring in tourists during its peak season as the European and American continents battle a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

Geingob said that considering how hard Namibia has been hit economically, the country could not afford a second wave.

“The COVID-19 experience has not been pleasant. Our economy has been hurt, thousands have lost employment, once thriving businesses have closed, children have been home for months on end, away from school.”

The Health Minister explained that registries at shops were no longer required. Controversially, he claimed that these un-utilized ‘registers’ were previously useful. He went on to say that people have not filled in required data or have added incorrect information which has rendered contact tracing useless.

Shangula further took issue with the general Namibian public. He observed that people were too complacent with measures to limit exposure and the spread of the virus.

“Since the reported decrease in the number of positive cases, a disturbing wave of a false sense of security has swept over our country. For example, it has been observed that many people are no longer wearing face masks when they go out in public. Those who wear masks are not wearing them correctly,” Shangula said.

“Physical distancing is not being observed. People are conducting themselves as if COVID19 is no longer amongst us.”

This comes as the country has 14,380 cumulative confirmed cases and 151 deaths.

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