Government has softened Covid-19 restrictions allowing religious, recreational and wedding gatherings to have 100 people from 50 indoors, and 250 people outdoors but maintaining the social distancing requirements.
Government has also lifted a ban on political party rallies, allowing parties to address meetings of a maximum of 100 persons indoors and 250 persons outdoors.
Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda announced the new measures at a news conference in Blantyre on Saturday, saying they have been made following a progressive downward trend on the number of new confirmed Covid-19 cases, those admitted to treatment units, deaths and positivity rates over the past three weeks.
The minister, accompanied by Principal Secretary for Health Dr. Charles Mwansambo and Co-Chair of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr Wilfred Chalamira Nkhoma, among others, said mobile markets should be held once a week.
Said Chiponda: “[And] where necessary, an enforcement officer may order a gathering to disperse and may use reasonable force to cause the gathering to disperse.”
She said people are still expected to observe other preventive measures such as social distancing of at least one metre, washing of hands with soap regularly or use of hand sanitisers and wearing of face masks.
Bars and entertainment centres, said the minister, will still be closing at 10 pm.
“Night vigils for funerals are not permitted, and indoor attendance should not exceed 10 persons at a time. All contacts of confirmed Covid-19 case should be traced, tested and self-quarantined for 14 days. Offices may be reopened 24 hours after disinfection is completed. Measures to decongest business premises should be implemented,” Chiponda said.
On travel and transportation within Malawi, she said the night curfew as prescribed in the previous guidelines will no longer apply.
She said the task force will continue to monitor the situation of the pandemic and may make adjustments to the guidelines and measures from time to time.
“Let me also remind fellow Malawians that both AstraZeneca and J & J vaccines are available in all health facilities and all those aged 18 and above should go to get vaccinated, for free. Lately, uptake of these vaccines has not been high enough towards reaching our goal of vaccinating at least 60 percent of eligible Malawians by the end of next year,” Chiponda said.