By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
President Yoweri Museveni announced on Monday night that the country would open up to ease public life, with terms and conditions until the government has provides free masks to every Uganda at least by June 2.
Museveni while giving his 14th address to the country in a space of two months, said that considering that many people were complaining that they cannot afford to buy a mask, and also to prevent people from sharing masks, the government has decided to provide masks for free to all Ugandans of six years and above.
“They will be distributed through the local council system”, the President announced.
President Museveni emphasized the directive that wearing of masks will be compulsory to all people in the public. He said that “the strategy of lockdown has saved the country from getting big numbers of Coronavirus infections and has also helped to have a rough idea as to where the enemy is coming from and also to prepare better”.
“Opening up is tied to the masks. And the masks will be ready in two weeks, starting May 19,” says President Museveni.
“We believe that with the [proper] mask, you do not infect others and you also do not get infected, on top of all the other measures.”
After dealing with the borders and suspending much of the activity in the country, the President says the enemy (the coronavirus) was dealt a huge blow.
President Museveni sought to give justification for why his government has allowed the cargo transporters to continue coming in despite being the source of the persistent numbers of the coronavirus cases in Uganda.
The president has announced new measure to ease the lockdown but said that are tied up by absence of masks.
The following are the new measures in easing the lockdown, which are to take effect after the proper masks have been distributed – “up to the village”:
1. Shops selling general merchandize will open provided they are not in the shopping malls, shopping arcades and food markets. Shops in malls/arcades can’t open now because it is impossible to observe social distancing in shopping malls or arcades.
2. The heroic market women that have slept in the work places for all these days, will be allowed to go home and come back to work daily if they want to.
3. Public transport will resume but with strict regulations. Mini-buses, buses, taxis, tuku-tukus can operate provided they carry only a half of their normal capacity. Public transport won’t operate in border districts for another 21 days.
4. Boda bodas won’t carry passengers yet. They should continue to carry cargo as they have been doing during the time of the lock-down.
5. Bars, night-clubs, gyms, saunas, swimming pools and hair-salons, will stay closed for another 21 days since they cannot easily observe the rules of social distancing.
6. The International borders of Uganda and the airport will remain closed so that we do not import additional cases from outside.
7. Education institutions will open but only for finalists/candidate classes. There will be no first-term examinations. Social distancing is a must. Other learners will wait for now.
8. Curfew from 1900hours (Saa moja ya usiku) until 0630 hours (Saa kuminambiri na nusu za usiku), remains in place for another 21 days.
9. Food restaurants can open as long as the clients observe social-distancing and there is no air-conditioning which spreads the virus.
10. People with private cars will be allowed to drive as long as the car does not carry more than 3 people, including the driver.
11. All the other restrictions will remain in place for another 21 days.
NOTE: (a) Government is to provide free masks to all Ugandans aged six and above in two weeks’ time. They will be distributed through the LC system.
(b) The national taskforce headed by the Rt Hon Prime Minister will meet and offer detailed SOPs in relation to these directives.