by Ndalimpinga Iita
WINDHOEK, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — Usually, every weekend, Moses Shilongo from Windhoek, the capital of Namibia would link up with friends and socialize at local entertainment areas until late into the night.
“The better part of the weekend was spent socializing, drinking, eating, dancing, talking, and hopping from one entertainment spot to another until very late if not early hours of the next day. It was fun and a good way to unwind from busy week at work,” Shilongo said on Monday.
But looking back at the just-ended weekend, things have changed, he said.
An imposed curfew aimed to curtail the spread of COVID-19 has changed many social patterns including socialization in entertainment areas.
Kalumbi Shangula, Minister of Health and Social Services, said that Namibians’ social habits, particularly at night have been identified as some of the factors fuelling the spread of COVID-19.
“A nation-wide restriction of movement is maintained from 9 pm to 4 am until Feb. 3, 2021. A curfew remains an important tool in limiting human interactions, thereby limiting transmission,” Shangula said.
Public gatherings are limited to a maximum of 50 people at any given time, with attendees required to maintain a distance of not less than two meters between them. Public gatherings shall not exceed two hours and shall not continue beyond 8 pm, according to the minister.
To adjust to new social life, Namibians are embracing alternate activities and ways of living amid imposed curfew. For Shilongo, though difficult at first, he had to get accustomed to life indoors at night.
“But I substituted the socialite life with reading and exercising to improve fitness level and my health, which I think are more progressive than the life I previously embraced,” Shilongo said.
Businesses also have adjusted their operating hours and models. Christian Johannes runs an entertainment business at a town in the northern part of Namibia. According to the entrepreneur, he had to adjust operations to cater to clients in compliance with the set regulations.
“Before COVID-19, we would operate until very late in the night. But due to restrictions, we adjusted trading hours, sitting arrangements to cater for social distancing and limiting the number of people entering the premises,” Johannes said.
This is more so because the sale of alcohol for onsite consumption is only permitted between 8 am and 8 pm Mondays to Saturdays, according to the Namibian government.
The curfew has also been attributed to the strengthening of family and social bonds.
Cecilia Shigwedha had a full-time job and part-time informal business, where she would spend time until late. But all these have been traded with reading and playing with her children, which has allowed for stronger family relations.
“Before that, I would be out until late-running my business, but now I value family time,” she added.
Moreover, the locals are also opting for indoor activities to avoid penalties.
“I do not want to be in jail and have a criminal record,” said Deme Matias.
The Health Minister said that the Public and Environmental Health Act makes provision for stiff penalties in the event of transgression, including hefty fines and imprisonment. Enditem