Editorial

NEW NORMAL LIFESTYLE

GOVERNMENT should be commended for further loosening lock down measures amidst the Covid-19 pandemic by reopening some key socio-economic sectors in the country
The eased lock down measures announced by President Edgar Lungu during a nationwide televised address yesterday should definitely bring a collective sigh of relief to a jittery population.
The President stressed that the directive was aimed at reopening some key socio-economic sectors to save the economy from collapsing.
But even as the nation celebrates the easing of restrictions, the catchword must be to observe at all times the “new normal.”
While some sectors of the economy have been allowed to re-open – eating places, casinos and cinemas – health preventive measures that have been in place must be adhered to.
But much to the chagrin of guzzlers, President Lungu said bars and taverns would remain closed and may be considered for reopening depending on how the measures announced yesterday would work in the next 7-14 days.
But even as bar owners are likely to complain, people must appreciate that it is easier to maintain social distancing in a restaurant than in a drinking place were social etiquette is thrown to the wind as the alcohol takes effect.
He called on Zambians to embrace the “new normal” by accepting that Covid-19 may be there to stay.
As the President noted, Covid-19 had negatively impacted the economy in a way never seen before.
Economies from the richest to the poorest nations have been thrown into disarray. Zambia has not been spared.
The challenge that President Lungu and his government have had to contend with has been to strike a balance between imposing a total lockdown in the country and allowing restricted human activities for the vulnerable.
Government had to ensure that those who eke out a living from selling groundnuts to ensure they could buy some food at the end of the day, continued with their businesses.
Zambia, like other African countries had to weigh the consequences of lifting their lockdowns, and at the same time guard against zero-sum policies aimed at saving only lives or the economy.
UN Economic Commission for Africa’s Secretary, Vera Songwe, on Thursday noted that with 42 African countries currently under full or partial lockdown, the continent is losing about 2.5 percent of its GDP or US$65 billion a month.
Ms Songwe was speaking during a debate on Africa’s lockdown exit strategies.
Another panelist, African Union Development Agency CEO, Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki.
noted that populations in countries like South Africa and Kenya are growing impatient, with some families living below the poverty line saying they would rather take their chances with the coronavirus than face starvation, said
“The question is how to choose the lesser of the two evils, because strict lockdowns have consequences,” he said.
Zambians have a choice to either help the government contain the threat of Covid-19 by heeding the health guidelines from the Ministry of Health even as restrictions are being eased in some sectors.
For as President Lungu said, the situation would be reviewed for the sectors that have been re-opened as depending on the response from the public, the drinking places could be next.
There has been of late a general outcry that people were becoming complacent because the number of deaths has remained low compared to countries like South Africa and Nigeria for example.
What must be understood is that just like preventive measures have not been a “copy and paste” affair among the countries, even the rate of infections cannot follow a similar pattern.
Zambia, as the authorities had pointed out, reacted as the situation on the ground dictated.
The bottom line though is that the public must continue to be alert so that life could return to normal.
Educational institutions need to re-open – especially examination classes – but this can only be done if the nation shows it is ready to play its part – by adopting the “new normal” lifestyle.

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