Business was relatively slow in Harare Central Business District this Wednesday as turnout was visibly lower compared to normal week days as citizens are slowly taking precautions to avoid the spread of the dreadful coronavirus.
A survey by 263Chat Business revealed that despite most shops opening doors, the usually bustling streets of Harare were relatively calm.
At fourth street bus terminus, some vendors could be seen selling their wares with face masks on, while kombi drivers and touts were not to be outdone.
“It’s really scary to think that someone has just died in Zimbabwe because of this coronavirus. We never really took the disease seriously until now,” said one rank marshal at fourth street bus terminus who identified himself as Fortune.
All formal retail shops have since put in place hand sanitizers at entry points.
Most companies in the services sector such as telecoms, media and legal practice have since closed operations and asked staffers to work from home.
Last week the Judicial Services Commission put a ban on trials and court weddings to prevent covid-19 infections.
Entities such as Cassava Smartech, have since created virtual offices as measures to curb exposing their employees from the virus while Zimpapers is on semi-lockdown.
The development has seen a somewhat slow but positive response to coronavirus precautions by the ordinary citizens since the country officially announced its first coronavirus case about a week ago.
Worryingly, is the shortage of face masks in most retail outlets a situation that has created enterprising opportunities for some actors who hoarded them and are now selling them in united states dollars for US$ 2 per unit.
This is very pricey for an ordinary Zimbabwean.
However, places like Mupedzanhamo in Mbare and other common market places across the city’s residential townships remain a cause for concern as people continue to disregard safety measure announced by authorities.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday reduced the maximum number of gatherings to 50 people failure to which a statutory instrument 77 of 2020 which entails a 12-month jail term for such larger gatherings implies.
At some banking halls, shorter than usual queues could be seen as desperate citizens tried their luck to withdraw cash, however endangering themselves through close contact.
There has been a call for the use of electronic money to prevent the exchange of hard notes and coins which are a major transmitter of the virus.
But Zimbabwe’s highly informal economy demands hard cash payments.
“We can’t sit home with money in the bank. We have mealie-meal being sold on the black market and they want to be paid in hard cash bond notes or US dollars. This is the reason we are queuing here to get our money,” an elderly who spoke to this publication on condition of anonymity.
Zimbabwe has recorded three cases of the coronavirus and at least one death to date.