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MANZINI BACK TO ITS OLD SELF

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MANZINI – After an intermission, the hub of the country yesterday returned to its busy old self.
Even though there has not been communication of an official lifting of the curfew that resulted in people leaving the town at 5pm sharp as well as ensuring that only essential workers were allowed into the city centre, yesterday the city was abuzz with people and traffic alike.


The city, which amasses over 100 000 visitors daily, had been on pause following a two- week lockdown. This came after the city had been identified as an epicenter of the novel coronavirus.


Permits


The ‘lockdown’ came with a need for the public to carry permits or have valid reasons to be allowed access to the town while also everything came at standstill at 5pm.
However, this seemed like distant history yesterday as the morning rush hour saw streets that had been void of traffic and pedestrians in the past days bustling with people.


Public transport was in and out of the city transporting those who were rushing to their various places of employment while others were descending from them.  The police who had been seeking permits or reasons of people seeking entry into the city were nowhere in sight at the entrance of the bus rank along Louw Street.


This activity was not limited to the public transport at the terminus but also saw dormant stalls coming to life as vendors selling an assortment of wares were active. The public was being offered a variety of delicacies that range from fat cakes, freshly baked scones to fresh fruits and vegetables.


This was the order of the day as clothing stores were operating as well. Before 10am, which is when the stores open for business, long queues were forming on the corridors leading to their entrances.


This was the same at the entrance of the Manzini Market. There was a long queue of people seeking to buy fruits and vegetables.
Despite government having made it a prerequisite that people should wear masks when in densely populated areas, some were not wearing their masks while others had them under their chins – much against the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).


The activity could have fooled one to believe that the partial lockdown had been uplifted and there were no longer restrictions to travel.


Retailers


This state of affairs lasted past the 3pm curfew which is when clothing retailers had to close shop.
Some of the visitors of the city were seen loitering within the shopping malls which had been void of activity for some time. However, at around 5pm, many people vacated the town.


Meanwhile, security personnel from the three State agencies were visible throughout the day; however, their numbers had declined. This is because in some of the spots where they had been checking for permits in the past weeks, they were nowhere to be found.


The security personnel were from His Majesty’s Correctional Services (HMCS), Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) and Umbutfo Eswatini Defence Force (UEDF).
At 3pm, the security personnel enforced the regulations on retailers who had not closed their shops yet. The businesses were forced to close .

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