Botswana opens up economy as country emerges from state of emergency

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People queue outside a supermarket in Gaborone, capital of Botswana, April 2, 2020. Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared a state of emergency following confirmation of three coronavirus cases in that country. He has also announced a lockdown beginning on April 2 for 28 days. (Xinhua/Tshekiso Tebalo)
People queue outside a supermarket in Gaborone, capital of Botswana, April 2, 2020. Botswana's President Mokgweetsi Masisi has declared a state of emergency following confirmation of three coronavirus cases in that country. He has also announced a lockdown beginning on April 2 for 28 days. (Xinhua/Tshekiso Tebalo)

Various sectors of Botswana economy will be fully functional for the first time in 18 months as the country ends the state of public emergency at midnight Thursday.

A government communication from various ministries on Wednesday stipulated new regulations that will come into effect after the end of state of emergency. The Emergency Powers Act of 2020 was enacted in April 2020 to help government deal with the then emerging coronavirus pandemic.

According to regulations in the updated Public Health Act, a person entering Botswana will still be required to present a negative PCR test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure from the country of origin at their own cost.

Wearing of masks will remain mandatory in all public areas including public transport. There is no limit to the number of people in public gatherings.

Temperature screening and maintenance of social distance will be required upon entering public areas.

Sport and the entertainment industry will also be fully opened and the organizers will be given the responsibility of ensuring compliance to health regulations. Addressing the media Wednesday, Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Tumiso Rakgare urged sports and entertainment organizers to remain vigilant as the threat of COVID-19 remains.

Last week other industries including tourism and alcohol announced their plans to open up after being hard hit by movement restrictions imposed during the state of public emergency.

Botswana had recorded 178,050 COVID-19 confirmed cases by Sept. 24, with 2,367 related deaths. The country is currently at level two of its vaccinating program targeting people aged 30 to 44. So far, 394,827 people in the country have received their first doses and 234,777 people have been fully vaccinated, according data given by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Enditem

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