Authorities at Zimbabwe’s entry points were yet to quarantine incoming travellers by midday on Thursday, nearly two days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced drastic new measures to contain the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
ZimLive was told that at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo, Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare and the Beitbridge border post, travellers were not being taken to quarantine facilities for 10 days as decreed by Mnangagwa on Tuesday.
Those presenting negative Covid-19 test certificates were not forced to undergo mandatory PCR tests on arrival either, it was established. An airport official in Harare who requested not to be named told Zimlive:
We’re still waiting for guidelines to be properly disseminated to the ground. You need PCR machines in place, you need health workers in place, you need the quarantine facilities in place, you need transport in place and there must be security – this is all taking a bit long and until such time we are ready, our duty is to facilitate the free movement of people within existing regulations.
Those arriving without money for quarantine are supposed to be handed over to the social welfare department which previously used schools and college buildings during a lockdown last year.
With schools and colleges currently open, and the department seriously underfunded, officials say it could take days more for the government to source food and accommodation.
President Mnangagwa said all visitors and returning residents arriving at the country’s ports would be compelled to undergo a US$60 PCR test at their own cost, and must spend 10 days in a quarantine facility.
The measures were with immediate effect and would be reviewed on December 13, he said during a televised address on Tuesday afternoon.
The announcement caused thousands of Zimbabweans planning their trips home for the Christmas holidays to reconsider their plans.
The government published statutory instrument 267 of 2021 to make Mnangagwa’s directive law on Wednesday.