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Gov’t keeps lockdown for two more weeks, as it works out free mask distribution

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Gov’t keeps lockdown for two more weeks, as it works out free mask distribution

President Yoweri Museveni

President Yoweri Museveni has announced an extension of the lockdown for two more weeks as the government works out the logistics of distributing face masks to reach every Ugandan above six years.

Although the president had initially indicated in the highly anticipated speech, that he had lifted the ban on public transport, (excluding boda bodas) the absence of the ‘right type’ of government-provided face masks right up to every person, will require two more weeks, and hence the hold on the resumption of public transport means.

Museveni’s insistence on the use of one type of face mask, could be a calculated political move, to sabotage his opponents, from using face masks as a campaign tool. This is especially so after reports emerged that People Power leaders had started distributing their own branded face masks in large numbers to willing takers.

Museveni says that until everyone has a face mask, which he estimated to be around June 2, is when taxis and buses will be allowed to operate again. Even then, Museveni said that taxis and buses will have to carry half their capacity.

The government has however maintained the ban on public transport in all border districts for at least 21 days.

Boda Bodas still banned

Museveni said that since it is impossible to observe social distance between the rider and the passenger, boda bodas will remain banned at least for three more weeks.

Arcades to remain closed

The President lifted the ban on non-food shops, except for those in arcades. Museveni justified maintaining the ban on arcades, shopping malls and other busy places on grounds that it is impossible to observe the 4-metre social distancing requirement.

Schools to open only for candidate classes

The President said that the government will allow schools to re-open for candidate classes to resume so that they are able to prepare and sit their final exams.

He said Schools and the Ministry of Education should use two weeks to prepare for school re-opening so that when public transport resumes, they can go together.

Private cars still banned

The president says that private cars will be free to return to the roads after everyone has obtained the government-provided standard face mask. In addition, the cars will not be allowed to carry more than 3 people including the driver.

Curfew remains

In another major blow to business, the president has kept the 7PM to 6AM curfew in place. This means that even the businesses that will be able to resume, will be constrained by limited working hours.

Entertainment still under lockdown

The President has maintained the ban on the wider entertainment industry, which includes bars, gyms, night clubs, on grounds that they cannot keep social distancing protocols.

Hotels and Food restaurants to stay

Museveni says that hotels and food restaurants can re-open but on condition that they do not use air conditioning, which he blamed for spreading the disease.

Uncertainty on situations of Ugandans abroad

President Museveni says that Uganda has a very big diaspora population estimated at around two million. He said that since many of them live in countries with high levels of infections, it’s no wise to open the gates for them to return since the country does not have the capacity to treat let alone quarantine them.

He however left the possibility of allowing a few thousands, who could be determined by the ministry of foreign affairs.

Editor’s Note: The Sunrise had previously erroneously, reported that the ban on private cars had been relaxed. We have since learned that the government made further clarification confirming that they too will wait for the government-provided masks.

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