Maputo — The Mozambican government has warned that, if widespread defiance of the measures ordered under the state of emergency continues, then it may impose tougher restrictions to halt the spread of the Covid-19 respiratory disease.

At the end of a meeting in Maputo on Wednesday of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said the government is “deeply worried” by the failure to comply with the preventive measures included under the state of emergency.

These measures include social distancing, the closure of bars, and other places that may attract crowds, a ban on most religious, political, cultural and sporting activities, limitations on the number of people that can be carried on public transport, avoiding crowds, and the obligatory wearing of masks in public places.

Suaze said that some recreational establishments, although ordered to close, have continued to function. He was clearly referring to reports of clandestine bars, which have been raided by the police.

He noted that some citizens have broken quarantine. All people who enter Mozambique are supposed to go into quarantine for 14 days. This quarantine period also applies to contacts of people who test positive for Covid-19.

Failure to observe social distancing is blatant. The health authorities say that, in places such as shops and markets, and wherever else it is feasible, people must keep a distance of at least 1.5 metres between themselves and the next person in line.

Yet Mozambican television stations have repeatedly shown that in markets in many parts of the county there is no attempt to abide by social distancing.

Suaze warned that “disrespect for these recommendations will dictate that, over the coming week, and depending on the developments that may take place, another form of analysis will have to be undertaken, seeking to take other measures to reverse the scenario”.

He mentioned no specific measures – but the government could ban certain forms of travel, or it could take measures to ensure that people obey the injunction to stay at home.

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