Masvingo (New Ziana) – Residents in Masvingo’s high density areas are generally defying lockdown measures put in place by government to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Unnecessary movement of people is the order of the day with those out and about not properly wearing face masks or without any at all.
Bottle stores and shebeens are running brisk business in the high density areas of Rujeko, Mucheke, Sisk, Runyararo West and Victoria Ranch with imbibers disguising beer in two-litre soft drink bottles.
To avoid exposing themselves, bottle store and shebeen operators carefully screen their customers with ‘strangers’ kept at arms’ length and not allowed to buy any beer.
Only well-known customers are allowed in store or premises where shebeens operate from to avoid raids by the police.
Illegal forex dealers, taxis operators and vendors have also been discreetly operating on the city streets in a cat and mouse game with the police while putting their lives and of others at risk of the pandemic.
Vendors and forex dealers in Rujeko around Jazire Shops, in separate interviews, indicated that hunger and lack of formal employment were forcing them to ignore Covid 19 restrictions put in place by government on January 5.
They indicated that they live from hand to mouth and could not afford a day to pass by without earning some money lest their families starve.
“We are working and not adhering to government’s restrictions on Corona virus because we are not formally employed, if we stop working we will not be able to put food on the table by the end of the day because we eat what we earn on the day,” said a forex trader.
Some residents and health experts have however called on law enforcement agents to follow up and make sure people are adhering to lockdown measures as the number of recorded cases and deaths continue to increase.
The situation is different in the city centre where despite the presence of forex dealers and vendors moonlighting at street corners, most people wear face masks and social distance especially in supermarkets and at other business premises.
While there was huge pedestrian and vehicle traffic during the first week resulting in running battles between the police and members of the public, the traffic seemed to noticeably decrease as the week wore on.
The city streets are virtually deserted after 3 pm when businesses are supposed close for the day.
Meanwhile the police in Masvingo have arrested 1 672 people for violating lockdown regulations since the onset of the lockdown on 5 January.
Masvingo provincial task force spokesperson, Rodgers Irimai said the offences included failure to wear face masks, non-observance of curfew times, failing to produce relevant documents at roadblocks and illegal pirating by taxi operators.