The Botswana government has decided to end a 48-day lockdown at midnight on Wednesday, reported Reuters. The lockdown was aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus in the country. The announcement comes as Botswana tries to restart an economy hit by the coronavirus pandemic. A zoning strategy has been announced to help curb virus spread.
“All lockdown restrictions will be lifted effective midnight, with only those moving across the designated zones requiring permits to travel,” COVID-19 Task Force Coordinator Dr Kereng Masupu said in a televised briefing. “Depending on the coronavirus disease pattern, a return to lockdown will remain an option.”
All businesses and schools are now allowed to reopen under strict conditions from Thursday. Stringent conditions have been set for businesses and schools wishing to reopen such as wearing of masks, checking of body temperatures, and regular disinfection.
As a precautionary measure, returning citizens and residents will have to undergo mandatory quarantine. The ban on the entry of foreign visitors into the country continues to remain in place.
Botswana has reported a relatively low number of COVID-19 infections with 29 cases recorded. One person has been killed by the virus. South Africa has reported the highest coronavirus infections in Africa. The country reported 803 new cases in a 24-hour cycle, taking the total to 18,003 as of Wednesday.
Botswana’s economy has, however, been severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s real GDP is estimated to contract by 13% in 2020 while the budget deficit is now seen more than doubling.
To cushion the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the country’s economy, the government has set aside a 5 billion pula ($413.00 million) fiscal stimulus while the central bank has cut interest rates and halved the primary Reserve Requirements (PRR) for commercial banks in a bid to improve liquidity in the banking system.