In the midst of these very trying and unprecedented times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that Botswana’s government has followed several nations in passing sweeping and far reaching emergency regulations and legislation for the public and private sector to deal with this pandemic.
One such piece of legislation is the Emergency Powers Act (Covid-19 Regulations ) which came into force on April 2.
The aforesaid Act imposes a 24-hour daily curfew stating that all businesses and offices may only continue their business operations by allowing their employees to work remotely from home by virtual means. This measure has been effective in promoting social distancing in Botswana's essential services business operations, while preventing, controlling and suppressing the spread of the virus.
Moreover, where businesses are not able to have employees working virtually from home, then those businesses are expected to cease operations as per the government declaration of a lockdown with effect from midnight on April 2 to April 30. In addition, a State of Emergency has now been extended to six months. Similarly, all religious and educational places of worship and instruction shall remain closed and any activities therein should be by electronic or virtual means.
The Botswana Government has also banned the selling of alcohol during the six months State of Emergency. It was reported that the county has had the lowest road accident rate ever during the Easter holiday season.
In currently advising clients as to whether there will be claims when the pandemic is over is not entirely clear. However, I would suggest that it would be wise to be prepared and that clients should have all their records in order especially regarding complex projects.
The Roman general Vegetius said, "Si vis pacem, para bellum" which means “If you want peace, prepare for war”. I suggest that we must also communicate with our counterparts to determine if solutions can be found now for anticipated problems in the future.
The courts are also affected by the emergency regulations and deal only with urgent matters. The lockdown does seem to have contained the number of new infections. Several European countries citizens, including those from the United Kingdom, are banned from entry into Botswana for the next six months. This will have a very negative impact on our economy as tourism is one of the major sources of revenue for the country. Japan, the United States, France, Italy, Germany, and the UK have citizens that patronize our famous safari parks. The impact of this will be terrible.
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