Government decision to extend business operating period from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm under the Covid-19 lockdown regulations have brought great relief to the retail sector which is still struggling to recover lost business since the imposition of tighter measures in March.
Prior to the announcement yesterday, businesses were only limited to 8 hours of operating between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm.
However, the extension of operating hours is a welcome boost for retail players who were unfairly competing with unregistered retailers selling stock way past gazetted hours.
“The move implemented by Government this week is in support of its plans to re-open the economy in a careful manner taking Covid -19 pandemic into consideration which is still in our midst,” the Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president, Denford Mutashu said.
Zimbabwe enforced one of the strictest lockdown regulations in the region to curb the spread of the pandemic and this hit hard on businesses as limited movement affected consumer spending.
This comes after the retail body had initially submitted an application to the government asking for an extension.
“All business stakeholders, consumers and the general public, while celebrating this move, should however remain vigilant in the fight against the invisible enemy, Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mutashu.
Cabinet has also approved the reopening of more than 16000 alcoholic beverages sector outlets across the country which had been shut since the beginning of April.
The sale of alcohol shall be in three categories which include firstly, licensed wholesalers, wine producers and bottle stores who shall sell to customers for consumption off premises.
Secondly, will be licensed restaurants, airports, recreational parks, house boats and camps that shall sell liquor to customers for consumption on premises during licensed hours and lastly licensed casinos and theaters that may sell liquor to customers for consumption on premises during licensed hours.
Liquor retailers who were restricted to only 8 hours of business have been losing business to shabeens which had arisen during the lockdown.
“All Shabeens that had mushroomed during the lockdown due to closure of bottle stores and bars, should be shut down immediately as they are now posing a serious health threat to communities,” Mutashu said.
Zimbabwe is gradually reopening its economy after nearly five months of stunted growth as a result of the lockdown measures.