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Zimbabwe shortens coronavirus curfew, extends business hours

Zimbabwe shortens coronavirus curfew, extends business hours
epa08608738 People wait in line for a wholsale store to open in Harare, Zimbabwe, 17 August 2020. Due to the economic meltdown in the country, many people tend to ignore Covid-19 pandemic regulations such as social distancing as they will be standing in queues for basic commodities thereby risking their lives.The pandemic is on an increase with over 130 deaths so far. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

JOHANNESBURG, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has shortened an overnight curfew imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic and extended business hours despite rising cases, the government said after a weekly cabinet meeting.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last month announced a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, but Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said this had left commuters stranded without transport.

The overnight curfew will now start at 8 p.m., while business hours will be extended to 4.30 p.m from 3 p.m.

Zimbabwe has recorded 5,308 cases and 135 deaths.

Officials fear a wholesale removal of restrictions on movement would see a spike in infections and overwhelm a health sector that is collapsing due to strikes by workers and lack of medicines and protective clothing.

The government banned public taxis in March, but the state bus service is failing to cope, forcing commuters to queue well beyond curfew hours. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Mark Potter)

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