The onset of a State of Emergency late Thursday, as state machinery moved to withdraw some civil liberties was hit by chaos amid confusion over who is allowed to travel and where to secure COVID-19 permits.
The business community and the public were left stranded as mixed messages from ministers left many workers and employers unclear about restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus. Addressing the media on Thursday, the Minister of Transport and Communications Thulaganyo Segokgo fumbled on how people are to move from one place to another.
Answering questions, Segokgo said only those with COVID-19 permits will be allowed to leave their homes to seek essential services like medical supplies and food. “We appeal to those who have means of transport to help those without and they must ensure that they have the permit,” he said, throwing the whole nation into more confusion.
He said that the movement of people will be restricted within their locality and only those deemed essential workers can move to another locality.
Segokgo stated that public transport has been suspended and only those who have Covid-19 permit will be allowed to only transport passengers.
Government has been calling on the nation not to do panic shopping as supermarkets will be operating but Segokgo threw the spanner into the message by stating that people can only do shopping at the outlet next to their homes.
Regarding the issuance of permits, Segokgo said they will be issued at various district commissioners' offices around the country.
One businessman in Maun, Reaboka Mbulawa said they have tried to contact the District Commissioner's office who in turn expressed no knowledge of the arrangement. “The lockdown is just a few hours away and there is confusion here and we don’t know where to get the permits as the DC is saying they don’t know anything about the arrangement,” he said.
Thapelo Modise in Selibe-Phikwe also expressed the same sentiments, saying there is total confusion regarding the permits for employees who have been designated essential service and are supposed to work during the lockdown but did not know what to do.