Crime & Courts

Confusion over face mask rules

IT’S Thursday morning and three men disembark a commuter omnibus and leisurely stroll the streets.

In the blink of an eye, police officers pounce on them with handcuffs in hand.

Their crime?

Failure to wear face masks.

The incident happened at a kombi drop-off point at TM/Pick and Pay Hyper market.

What should have been a routine arrest for violating Covid-19 compliance rules quickly turned into a public spectacle.

The three gentlemen flatly refused to be handcuffed.

“Ufuna ukusibophelani? The Government said masks should no longer be worn in public.

“You guys are just corrupt police officers who want bribes under the guise of enforcing coronavirus rules,” screamed one of the men.

Aimed at attracting public sympathy, or aggression, shouting at the officers clearly worked.

A small crowd of onlookers started gathering at the scene of the confrontation.

And the small crowd joined in voicing their anger at the law enforcement officers for doing their job.

Sensing that the situation might escalate into a violent confrontation, the officers walked away.

All this took place in full view of a B-Metro reporter who was also making his way to work.

One vendor told this publication that police officers had been arresting violators of the face mask rule since Wednesday morning.

“But we don’t know why they are arresting us when the Government made an announcement that we are no longer required to wear face masks?” asked Melusi Nkomo.

It then begs the question, what is the correct status of the face mask rule and its implications on members of the public.

Authorities announced the decision to remove the outdoor mask mandate on Tuesday.

But note, the scrapping of the mandate applies only for triple-vaccinated individuals.

Proof of vaccination must be carried all the time.

Triple vaccination means an individual with two mandatory vaccinations plus the booster shot.

“Noting the decrease in Covid-19 cases, Cabinet resolved that those who have received three doses of the World Health Organisation recommended vaccines are exempted from mandatory wearing of face masks in outdoor public places but should, however, wear face masks in indoor public places and on public transport.

“Those fully vaccinated should carry their vaccination cards all the time,” said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

Covid-19 has so far taken the lives of 5 588 people.

In the last week, the number of new Covid-19 cases continued to decrease, with 57 cases being recorded.

However, despite the relaxation of regulations, authorities will continue to intensify the Covid-19 vaccination programme for the nation to achieve herd immunity.

So far out of the little over 15 million Zimbabweans counted in the census only 6 390 545 have even had one shot.

Deputy police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele was not reachable for comment on the position of the force regarding enforcement of  the regulations.

-bmetro

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