1. Batswana betsho; I wish to inform members of the public that in view of the rapid and unprecedented spread and transmission of Covid-19 commonly known as Coronavirus globally, the Government of Botswana following advice from the HIGH LEVEL COVID-19 TASK TEAM chaired by His Excellency the President, has taken the following measures as a precaution to further protect Batswana from the possible spread of the virus in Botswana. This is part of Government’s concerted efforts to buttress what the Honourable Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Lemogang Kwape has been advising you on a daily basis about the need to prevent the spread of this global pandemic.
i) The movement of people such as visiting neighbouring countries including Lesotho and Swaziland is restricted with the exception of the movement of goods and services. Batswana and residents of Botswana returning from these countries will be quarantined for 14 days. These measures will apply with immediate effect.
ii) Travel to and from high risk countries is prohibited. The following countries have been classified by the World Health Organisation as high risk countries; Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Chechnya, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, Iran, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America. To this end, non-citizens and non- residents coming from those countries are prohibited from entering Botswana at any point of entry. Botswana citizens and residents returning from these high risk countries will be subjected to mandatory quarantine for 14 days with immediate effect.
iii) Furthermore, bars and liquor restaurants will be closed and only liquor/bottle stores will remain open until further notice. This will be effected immediately.
2. Members of the public will recall that His Excellency the President recently undertook an emergency official trip to Namibia to seize the opportunity of the presence of other regional Heads of State in Windhoek to discuss critical Covid-19 measures taken in the respective countries sharing borders with the Republic of Botswana. Consequently His Excellency the President has been placed on self-isolation for a period of 14 days starting from 21st March, 2020 in accordance with Section 25 of the Public Health Act of 2013.
3. I also wish to inform members of the public that His Excellency the President has personally expressed solidarity with His Excellency Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the Republic of South Africa following the latter’s address to the South African nation on measures that were put in place in that country last night. President Ramaphosa has assured His Excellency the President that, the movement of goods and services between the two countries will not be disrupted in any way.
4. In conclusion, I would like to assure members of the public that Government will continue to monitor the situation closely and should the situation change, additional measures that are aimed at protecting citizens and residents of this country will be put in place.
5. So far Botswana has not recorded any confirmed case of Coronavirus but I would like to urge members of the public to comply with all the measures that Government has put in place. You will recall that during his press conference last week, His Excellency the President emphasized that it is only a matter of time before Covid-19 arrives in Botswana. I want to reiterate that message today.
6. I thank you for your attention.