BILL WATCH 79/2020 - Reopening of Borders and Partial Relaxation of Curfew

BILL WATCH 79/2020

[2nd December 2020]

Public Health Lock-down Order

Reopening of Borders and Partial Relaxation of Curfew

As if to allay fears that the national lock-down would be tightened following a spike in Covid-19 cases in Zimbabwe, on Monday the Government published amendments to the Lock-down Order which allowed the country’s borders to reopen from yesterday; the curfew was also relaxed.  The amendments are contained in SI 282 of 2020 and can be accessed on the Veritas website [link].  A consolidated version of the Lock-down Order, incorporating these latest amendments, can also be accessed on the Veritas website [link].

In this Bill Watch we shall outline the effect of the SI.

Opening of Borders to Passenger Traffic

As from the 1st December, all the entry and exit points on Zimbabwe’s borders are opened to goods and passenger traffic [Note, our international airports were opened to traffic on the 1st October]

Entry of persons through a border post is subject to the following restrictions:

Non-citizens and non-residents:  People who are neither citizens nor residents of Zimbabwe will have to exhibit a Covid-19-free certificate issued within the preceding 48 hours and must not show symptoms of the disease.  If they cannot produce such a certificate, or if they show Covid-19 symptoms, they will be refused entry.  The amended order does not mention whether non-citizens and non-residents will have to self-quarantine after being permitted to enter Zimbabwe.

Citizens and returning residents:  Citizens and residents were allowed to enter Zimbabwe by virtue of a previous amendment to the Lock-down Order [see Bill Watch 61/2020 of the 22nd September 2020].  They have to exhibit a Covid-19-free certificate and, if they show no symptoms of the disease, can be permitted to enter Zimbabwe and self-quarantine at home – though the period of self-quarantine is not stated.  If they cannot produce a certificate, or if they show symptoms of Covid-19, they must be taken to a holding facility and tested;  if they test positive for the disease they are detained in a place of isolation for 14 days, and if they test negative they are discharged to self-quarantine at home ‒ again the period is not stated.

Relaxation of Curfew

Section 25 of the Lock-down Order imposed a night-time curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Under the new amendment the nightly curfew starts at 10 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. the next morning.


This short SI raises a surprising number of questions and contains a surprising number of mistakes:

  • The purpose of the SI seems to be to open the country’s borders, but it is not clear if previous restrictions on the classes of people who can enter Zimbabwe remain in force.  The new section 8(2) inserted by the SI says that “the entry … of persons [into Zimbabwe]… shall be permitted subject to the restrictions contained in this Order”.  Section 8(1) restricts entry to returning citizens and residents, crews of aircraft, lorry drivers, transiting SADC nationals and residents, foreign envoys, heads of State and other foreign dignitaries.  Are these restrictions still in place?  If not, why have they not been repealed?
  • As we have already pointed out, there is no mention of self-quarantine for non-citizens and non-residents who enter the country.  This should have been dealt with.  If they have to self-quarantine, the place where they must do it needs to be stated (they can’t self-quarantine at home, obviously).  If they don’t have to self-quarantine there should be some explanation of why they don’t when citizens and residents do.
  • Both the two operative sections in the SI contain errors in numbering which make it difficult to work out which provisions of the Order are being amended.



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