President Edgar Lungu has announced the reopening of all international airports which were closed with immediate effect as bars and night clubs remain closed.
President Edgar Lungu also directed the Ministers of Finance, Transport and Communication, Home Affairs, Health and Tourism and Arts to work together in ensuring that health guiltiness are followed.
The Head of State cited masking, social distancing and frequent washing of hands, and screening as some of the measures that should be fully complied to as well as ensuring that passengers who test positive are sent into quarantine centers until they test negative.
Addressing the nation on the COVID-19 pandemic at State House today, President Lungu explained that the reopening of all International Airports will trigger the recovery of the tourism sector not only in Livingstone but the country at large.
“In the tourism sector as I stated in the last address, we also have to get back to work. I, therefore, announce the reopening of all international airports which were closed,” he said.
“Let me direct the Minister of Communication and Transport, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Tourism to work together in ensuring stringent health guidelines such as testing passengers with symptoms; masking; social distancing; frequent washing of hands, and follow-up on passengers who test positive and sending them into quarantine until they test negative,” President Lungu charged.
The Head of State said government is cautious when it comes to easing up any restrictions as the cold season has potential to spike the number of positive COVID-19 cases as it has been the case in other countries.
And President Lungu has firmly stated that bars and night clubs will remain closed until the weather conditions are favorable and special specific guidelines for the sub-sector are devised and put in place.
“We cannot afford to drop our guard. COVID-19 is real and still here with us! We should continue observing the health guidelines of hand washing and sanitizing, face masking and social distancing even more, with these extreme weather conditions,” he said.
“So far, the majority of our people have in the last three months, worked with unity of purpose to keep the COVID-19 outbreak under control. This is indeed in line with our spirit of Ubuntu, which places the greater good before individual benefits. However, the biggest enemy we face today is complacency,” he said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu stressed that the impact of COVID-19 is beginning to manifest as evidenced by the lower revenues by K20.8 Billion arising from the general reduction in the economic activities.
President Lungu said government spending in 2020 is expected to rise by approximately K20 billion due to the depreciation of the kwacha which has in turn raised external debt payments and other foreign based expenditures.
“External debt service is expected to rise by K8.7 billion. In addition, COVID-19 related expenditures have contributed to an increase in government spending,” he disclosed.
“This is why my government has put in place the K10 billion medium term refinancing facility meant to restructure, refinance or extend credit to businesses and households impacted by COVID-19,” President Lungu said.
The Head of State said it is encouraging that commercial banks are now accessing part of the K10 billion to be loaned to entrepreneurs, especially small and medium enterprises.
The Head of State disclosed that K533 million of K1.8 billion worth of applications from the banking sector have been approved by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ).
Additionally, President Lungu said applications worth K753 million from the non-banking financial sector, are currently under consideration by BoZ.
Today, June 25, marks 97 days since the country recorded the first case of COVID-19 in March which has seen 1,497 people being infected and 18 related deaths