Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, has decreed a new state of emergency for 30 days from Saturday, due to the continued Covid-19 pandemic, predicting during this period the phased resumption of economic activities in the country.
“We consider that this option is the one that best serves the interests of our people and only in this way can we ensure the necessary balance between restrictive measures and the gradual resumption of economic activity,” said Nyusi in an address to the nation on Wednesday night, speaking at his palace in Maputo, the country’s capital.
The decree, which was sent to parliament on Wednesday, maintains restrictions adopted when Nyusi on 1 April first decreed a state of emergency due to the pandemic, which was to be extended three consecutive times, the maximum allowed under Mozambique’s constitution.
This new state of emergency was decreed seven days after the end of the last period of extension, so making it possible to do so.
Among other restrictions, the new state of emergency maintains limitations regarding gatherings, events and entertainment spaces, and makes the wearing of face coverings compulsory.
Despite maintaining the restrictions, Nyusi announced the phased recovery of economic activities, divided into three phases, which he said would be “adopted gradually and cautiously” starting from 18 August.
The first phase of easing is to include the resumption of classes in higher and technical education, in the academies of the Defence and Security Forces, and in institutions that train teachers and health personnel. Religious services are also to be allowed, but with no more than 50 participants, while at funeral ceremonies the number of people allowed is to increase to 50 from 10 at present.
The second phase, which starts on 1 September, foresees the reopening of cinemas, theatres, casinos, gyms and driving schools, among other activities considered to be of medium risk.
Phase three of the resumption of economic activities, scheduled to begin on 1 October, covers the beginning of 12th-grade classes in schools, which is the last year of secondary education in Mozambique.
“As for pre-school, primary and general secondary education, its resumption is dependent on the verification of conditions imposed by health authorities and inspection bodies, clearly obeying the trend of the pandemic in our country,” said the president, adding that the same condition applies to team sports.
Establishments selling alcoholic beverages are to remain closed until the appropriate conditions for their operation are confirmed, he stressed.
The president also indicated that the resumption of international flights would be “speeded up”, so long as airlines respect preventive measures, adding that further details were to be announced soon.
According to Nyusi, Mozambique has managed to avoid pressure on the health system and is an example in the fight against the pandemic in the region, but there has still been some “neglect and non-compliance with prevention measures”, resulting in an increase in the number of coronavirus cases.
“The number of agglomerations is growing, the number of parties is growing, the number of bars that operate in defiance of the rules and the disrespect for the wearing of masks,” said the president, calling on “every Mozambican” to help combat Covid-19.
Mozambique has so far registered 2,079 positive cases of the new coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A total of 15 people are recorded as having died from Covid-19 while 778 are deemed to have recovered since the announcement of the first case on 22 March.
The country has conducted 63,725 tests on suspected cases, having screened over 1.6 million people.