Latest COVID-19 measures: Schools open, jabs for teens, and restaurants only for the vaccinated

Schools resume classes starting Monday, teens can now be vaccinated, and restaurants can serve vaccinated sit-in clients under new relaxed COVID-19 measures announced by Government.

Exam classes resume on 30 August, while other classes can start on 6 September.

“Intercity and intracity transportation for learners will be allowed during this period,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced after Cabinet on Wednesday.

Restaurants can now serve sit-in customers, but only if they are vaccinated.

“Restaurants now allowed to re-open for sit-in patrons who are fully vaccinated subject to the production of vaccination cards and strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols.”

Under measures introduced in July, restaurants could only serve takeaways and make deliveries.

Children under the age of 18 can also now get vaccinated.

“On the advice of scientists, the vaccination programme will be extended to the 14-17 year age group,” Mutsvangwa said.

To speed up vaccinations, the Ministry of Health will expand the network of private centres offering vaccination, and also target churches and colleges.

The World Health Organisation has not recommended the Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines for people younger than 18 years of age. This is not because of any known risk, but due to the fact that there has not been extensive studies among children as they are regarded as a low priority, compared with high-risk groups such as the elderly or frontline medical workers.

However, in June, Sinovac said a clinical study on children aged 3-17 showed that the vaccine was safe for the age group.

Sinovac said: “Hundreds of cases showed that after vaccination, the group [three to 17 years old] is as safe as the 18-year-old adult group.”

The United Arab Emirates, which has one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, has also authorised Sinopharm vaccines for children.

In Zimbabwe, government policy on vaccines is advised by a panel of health experts, among them local epidemiologists and the local office of the WHO.

According to Mutsvangwa, the government has so far acquired 13 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, out of the 20 million required in order to meet government’s targets.

In September, Zimbabwe will buy 2.5 million more doses, and receive 943 200 doses under the COVAX programme. China has also donated a further 500 000 Sinopharm vaccines.