By Duncan Mlanjira
The Attorney General, Chikosa Silungwe has written the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 advising it from enforcing stricter and compulsory public health (Coronavirus Containment, Prevention and Management) Rules, 2020 because the decision was challenged in court.
The Coronavirus Containment, Prevention and Management Rules were gazetted by the Minister of Health on 9th April, 2020 but were suspended by the High Court in the case of the State (on application of Esther Kathumba and others).
The injunction was filed against the President of Malawi, Minister of Health, Inspector General of Malawi Police Service, Commander of the Malawi Defence Force and the Attorney General as Judicial Review Cause Number 22 of 2020.
“This means that the suspension imposed by the Court is still in force [and] Government cannot, therefore, enforce or implement the Rules until the suspension is lifted.
“In view of the foregoing, you are advised to reverse your decision to implement the Rules by way of Press Release since the matter is in Court.
“My office is handling the matter with the utmost urgency it deserves considering the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Malawi.
“Do not hesitate to consult my office for any advice on the matter,” says Silungwe in the letter issued on Monday.
After the fresh directive that was done on Friday, July 10 all banks in the country issued notices that no customer shall be allowed into banking halls if they are not wearing face masks.
On the same day, Meanwhile, the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) said that it had intensified enforcement and surveillance exercises on all routes to ensure that motorists and operators are adhering to the COVID-19 preventive measures it laid down.
The Directorate further warned that it will not hesitate to revoke licences of any operator and driver who will not adhere to the guidelines and restrictions.
The measures include restriction on carrying capacity for the public service vehicles (buses, minibuses and taxis) that they should be reduced reduced to 60% seating capacity whilst observing social distance.
All tricycle shall only carry the rider and one passenger; goods vehicles shall only carry the driver and one passenger in front seat and pedal cycle and motor cycle should maintain carrying only one passenger.
No standing passengers allowed on any public service vehicle and that and public service vehicles should have slide opening windows and those without should have a functional ventilation system.
All public service vehicles are required to disinfect before commencement of every trip and all crew and passengers must put on protective face masks that will cover the nose and mouth
All passengers must wash hands with soap or use hand sanitizers before entering a bus or minibus. The Directorate also bans touting (call boys) for passenger service vehicles.
Animals are not allowed to be carried on public service vehicles and all goods vehicles are not allowed to carry passengers.
Cross-border passenger travel still remains suspended and all passengers in private vehicles should sit next to windows with no passenger sitting in the middle.
The directorate further says all private vehicle occupants should wear face masks.
“COVID-19 is real and together we can stop the spread of Coronavirus,” says the statement. “Your safety is our number one priority — Arrive Alive.”