King Mswati III, the absolute monarch of Swaziland (eSwatini), has put the kingdom in partial lockdown in a bid to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The army and police will be deployed to ensure people obey the new demands.
His Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini announced on Tuesday (24 March 2020) people would not be allowed to leave their home except to get or provide essential services such as healthcare, food, or banking.
In a statement Dlamini said, ‘His Majesty King Mswati III and Ingwenyama [the Queen Mother] has commanded Government to introduce a partial lockdown on selected sectors of the economy to curtail the spread of coronavirus with effect from 27 March 2020.
‘The partial lockdown entails: For 20 days, all unnecessary movements and visits outside the perimeters of your home are restricted except to provide or acquire essential services such as healthcare, food, or banking services, and for the personnel performing such services.’
To date only five people have been confirmed to have the coronavirus, none have died and one recovered.
The Prime Minister said, ‘Essential Industries are expected to continue operating while observing the proper hygiene standards that will protect employees from the pandemic. The Ministry of Commerce will provide guidance on which industries fall under essential services.’
He added, ‘Non-essential travel between towns, cities and regions of the country is not permitted, except for medical reasons or to provide or acquire essential services. Transport of food and goods will be allowed.
‘Public transport will only operate for essential movement and with one meter distance between passengers. All bars are closed. Bottle stores will be allowed to operate from 11am–6pm on Mondays to Saturdays. Police will be vigilant in closing illegal drinking spots and shebeens.’
King Mswati had previously declared a state of emergency that closed all schools, colleges and universities. It also banned gatherings of 50 or more people and put in place some travel restrictions. Neighbouring South Africa had already closed some of its borders with Swaziland.
The new measures go further. Dlamini said, ‘All public gatherings of more than 20 people are prohibited. This includes religious activities, sports events, conferences, wedding celebrations, music concerts, parties, gymnasiums, or other activities or place where the public gathers.’
He added, ‘Transport of food and goods across the borders will continue. The army and the police will be deployed to ensure compliance with all these measures. Chiefs and traditional authorities will take a leading role in enforcing these measures in their communities.’
He added, ‘Government advises that only goods and cargo and returning citizens and legal residents will be allowed through our borders. Returning citizens and residents will be subjected to a mandatory 14 days quarantine at designated locations except for those who are able to self-isolate.’
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