Businesses are in favour of an extension of operating hours from 8 AM to 4.30 PM and for curfew hours to be curtailed so that the curfew runs from 8 PM to 5 AM.
Under the current Level Four lockdown, retail outlets and the majority of businesses classified as essential services are required to operate between 8 AM and 3 PM while the curfew order is in place between 6 PM and 6 AM.
Mutashu said successive lockdowns have had a negative impact on businesses and this has been exacerbated by local authorities’ propensity to increase shop licence fees and also a hike in tollgate fees by ZINARA.
As a result, several businesses have closed shop, rendering hundreds of people jobless hence the push for the extension of operating hours. Said Mutashu:
Another biggest challenge is business fighting Covid-19 amidst an internal fight for its own survival where operating hours have been set at 08:00hrs to 15:00hrs while a curfew ensues from 6 pm to 6 am the following day.
Movement of goods and services is also currently slow due to roadblocks.
The Level 4 national lockdown runs to the 15th of February and some health experts have urged the government to consider relaxing the restrictions and focus on vaccinating the population to enable economic recovery.