Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced that the state of emergency, currently in force, will be replaced by a “situation of public calamity” as from zero hours on Monday.
In August, the Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, passed a law on disaster management, which allows the government to take extraordinary measures in the face of a pandemic, without resorting to the state of emergency envisaged by the Constitution.
Whereas a state of emergency must be renewed, with parliamentary consent, every 30 days, no limit is set to the situation of public calamity.
Addressing the nation on Friday night, Nyusi said the situation of public calamity will last indefinitely. Lifting it will depend on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is accompanied by a red alert, the maximum level of warning decreed in the event of an imminent large scale threat.
The preventive measures against Covid-19 decreed under the state of emergency will remain in force, said the President. Thus masks must be worn in public places with the exception of physical activities such as sport, and any “duly proven medical counter-indications”.
“Masks don’t hurt”, said Nyusi. “Yes, they’re uncomfortable, but over time we’ll get used to them”.
Other basic health measures against Covid-19 include regular washing of hands, and social distancing, with citizens keeping at least 1.5 metres between themselves and other people.
People entering Mozambique, of whatever nationality, remain subject to 14 days quarantine, as do people who are contacts of previously identified Covid-19 cases. Visits to patients in hospital are limited to two a day, and Covid-19 patients must remain in total isolation, with no visits at all.
All bars and stalls selling alcoholic drinks will remain closed. Nyusi stressed that this ban does not apply to stalls selling food or other items. The opening hours for markets remain restricted to 06.00 to 17.00.
Restaurants can continue operating (as they have done throughout the state of emergency), as long as they observe Covid-19 preventive measures (such as distancing between the tables).
But the government also plans to reopen those services and economic sectors that were closed down during the state of emergency. “The government will continue with a series of measures that seek to maintain the balance between fighting against Covid-19 and gradually reopening our economy”, said Nyusi.
Thus the government is resuming the issuing of documents such as identity cards, passports, residence permits for foreigners are driving licences. To avoid queuing and the subsequent crowds, passports and temporary visas must be requested online.
Passenger flights to and from Mozambican airports may resume, but only on a basis of reciprocity. Thus flights from, for example, South Africa may land at Mozambican airports, but only if Mozambican flights can land in South Africa.
Classes at universities and other higher education institutions should already have resumed. Nyusi said this re-opening will extend to the 12th (pre-university) grade in secondary schools, as from 1 October. But the resumption of classes at lower levels of education will be authorised by the Minister of Education and will depend on the epidemiological situation and the assessment of the health authorities.
As from 15 September, the ban on visiting beaches will be lifted. But Nyusi made it clear that beach sports and concerts remain banned, and there can be no consumption of alcohol on the beaches. The preventive measures (such as social distancing and wearing masks) in force for other public places, also apply to beaches.
Public and private workplaces can operate, but must take the temperature of their employees at the start of each working day, and ensure that their premises are well ventilated and regularly disinfected. Entry must be barred to people running a fever or with flu-like symptoms.
The number of people allowed to attend meetings is restricted to 40, except for meetings that are essential “for the functioning of the state and are in the public interest”.
Religious services may be held, but attendance must not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the church, mosque or other place of worship.
A maximum of 50 people may attend funerals, unless the cause of death was Covid-19, in which case, the maximum remains ten.
Failure to obey these regulations can be punished in terms of the legislation on civil disobedience and offences against public health.