Windhoek – Namibia is keeping a leash on bars, South Africa has outright banned the sale of tipple, and Zimbabwe’s nightclubs remain closed.
Across SADC, it will largely be a locked down Easter holiday as countries fear a spike in COVID-19 infections amidst warnings about a third wave of the pandemic sweeping Southern Africa.
Namibia has relaxed some measures, such as mandatory pre-testing of returning residents, but President Hage Geingob has warned that there will be no dropping of the guard.
“Restrictions on movements through a curfew will remain in place from 22h00 until 04h00, daily. Public gatherings will increase from the current limit of 50 to 100, for both outdoor and indoor events. Restaurants, bars and shebeens will be permitted to extend the trading hours for liquor up to 22h00, Mondays to Saturdays,” President Geingob said ahead of Easter.
Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Kalumbi Shangula said the country was focused on the second phase of immunisations from April 19, and the acquisition of more vaccines.
“The government is working hard to secure and procure COVID-19 vaccines for the country. In addition to ongoing engagements with the COVAX Facility, we have reached out to the Africa Medicines Supply Platform as well as manufacturers of vaccines in China, Russian Federation, India and United States of America, to secure more COVID- 19 doses.
“We aim to vaccinate between 60 and 80 percent of the population in order to achieve the required levels of herd immunity. Namibia welcomes the development announced yesterday for African countries to access the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be produced in South Africa,” Dr Shangula said.
He said the government was working on a framework to facilitate importation of COVID-19 vaccines by entities other than the Health Ministry.
In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated that the alcohol ban would not affect bars and restaurants as these could serve sit-in customers.
Alcohol industry stakeholders, however, said the measures were a major blow to an industry that went for months with strict restrictions.
Elsewhere, Zimbabwe has put restrictions on movements during the holidays, including preventing boarding school pupils from travelling home and parents and guardian from visiting them.