Uganda: Coronavirus: Government to relax lockdown

Mamos Media

A man carries a sick child on his back on Access Road in Kampala last weekend. Many people have improvised ways of getting access to essential services among which is the use of bicycles following the ban on both private and public transport. The lockdown period elapses on May 5. PHOTO BY KELVIN ATUHAIRE 

By Andrew Bagala

KAMPALA- Cabinet yesterday agreed to lift the lockdown, but in a phased manner.

In a meeting chaired by President Museveni, Cabinet agreed that each sector of government will develop a plan for the phased reopening of the country.

A source who attended the meeting said President Museveni tasked the ministers to present the sector plans at a special Cabinet meeting on May 2 which will review them and decide on the phased implementation when the current lockdown ends on May 5.

In a presidential address today at 8pm, President Museveni is expected to announce the intention to relax the lockdown that started on April 1.

In an effort to tackle the spread of the coronavirus into the country from neighbouring states, the Cabinet ministers reportedly agreed that each truck will be allowed to have only a driver and he or she will be tested at the border before entering the country.

Nearly all the new cases of Covid-19 that have tested positive in the last two weeks have been cargo truck drivers bringing in essential commodities from Kenya and Tanzania.

Kenya yesterday announced that they had started massive test of all truck drivers to ensure that they do not spread it to different parts of their country and the region.

Another source said Cabinet agreed to concentrate its efforts at the borderline where they will heavily deploy security officers to ensure no one enters the country without undergoing testing and being quarantined.

Truck drivers are among the few workers who were allowed to continue working during the lockdown as they are considered very important to the survival of the economy.

Last week, Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, said truck drivers will operate in a relay.

A foreign transport company whose trucks enter Uganda must have a specific driver that will drive it in the country upon reaching the border.

However, the borders will remain closed to non-cargo traffic until coronavirus is defeated here and in the neighbouring countries.
On March 18, President Museveni suspended public gatherings, closed schools and worship centres, pubs, and cultural meetings for 32 days.

All people arriving from abroad were subjected to 14-day quarantine and could only be released if they tested negative to coronavirus.

Following the first Covid-19 case recorded on March 21, the airport and all borders were on March 22 closed to passenger traffic except cargo.

The President on March 27 suspended public transport for 14 days. This was later followed by suspension of private transport, only allowing cargo trucks and essential delivery vehicles to continue operating.
On March 30, a curfew was imposed and a total lockdown declared for 14 days. The lockdown was extended for another three weeks up to May 5.

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