THE government has announced a new set of restrictions in an attempt to curb a rising number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the country.
The new guidelines limit public gatherings, mandate face masking and social distancing amid government’s intensified measures to contain spread of the pandemic at community level.
The government has also banned public rallies, including political and religious ones, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender Elderly and Children, Prof Abel Makubi said yesterday.
Prof Makubi said the new Covid-19 rules aim at ‘controlling Covid-19 transmission without affecting economic activities.
Unveiling the new coronavirus guidelines, Prof Makubi said despite the fact that Tanzania has received Covid-19 vaccines, people must continue to observe precautions to break the chain of infection.
The new guidelines also touch public ceremonies including weddings, as the government urges organizers to weigh up the importance of holding such ceremonies.
“If necessary they have to consider all precautionary measures including checking body temperature for each invitee,” said Prof Makubi.
“All wedding ceremonies have to be conducted in open spaces, and if at all conducted in halls they should be brief with a limited number of people,” he added, insisting on social distancing.
That also applies in religious buildings whereby the government advises reducing the time for worshipping to only two hours as well as keeping a distance of at least one metre from one person to another.
The ministry also directed commuter buses to limit the number of passengers, observe the level-seat rule. Prof Makubi called for the installation of hand washing facilities or sanitizers in public places, while insisting that both government and private institutions should mandate face masking all the time.
He mentioned such public places as police stations, courts, prisons, bars, markets, auctions and others. Prof Makubi called on the judiciary to consider taking steps to reduce congestion in prisons by prioritizing giving bail to detainees who face bailable cases.
“Testing body temperature should also be a norm before allowing people entering a detainee's room and permit only one relative in a day to visit an inmate,” Prof Makubi said, adding that a relative and inmate should both wear face masks and keep their distance.
He said, in bars, customers have to sit at a distance of one metre from one to another and those with a cough or flu should not be allowed to enter barber shops.
Meanwhile, he urged Regional and District Commissioners as well as local leaders to ensure that they educate their people over proper uses of face masks at various public gatherings.
It comes after the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima on Friday released statistics on the number of deaths and cases, saying the country has so far recorded 29 deaths and 858 total cases by last Thursday.
Dr Gwajima warned against laxity in the fight against the pandemic, saying although the government has been insisting to the public on the importance of taking all necessary precautions against the pandemic, most people were still reluctant.
The minister called on government and private sector leaders to set an example of how they are taking all precautionary measures in fighting Covid-19.
Dr Gwajima announced the ban of all activities that cause unnecessary mass gathering, noting that all gatherings deemed important should follow precautionary measures without affecting economic and social activities.
On Saturday, Tanzania received the first batch of over one million Johnson Covid- 19 vaccines donated by the United States government through the COVAX arrangement, as the country plans to inoculate around 34 million of the population.
Receiving the consignment, Dr Gwajima said the Covid-19 vaccines, like any other the country has been receiving, have gone through all the necessary reception procedures of health products.
According to the minister, the vaccines will soon start to be administered after all the quality and control checks have been finalized.
She said the vaccines will be issued free of charge in different health facilities and other special centres which will be introduced across the country to ease access.