Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday night ordered the closure of schools and the suspension of non-essential travel between districts in an attempt to stem out a worrying trend in the rise in Covid-19 cases in the East African country in recent weeks.
Schools were to close beginning Monday for six weeks and mass gatherings are banned, with an exception for weddings and funerals that are only allowed with a limited number of people.
As of Thursday 10th May, only emergency, tourist and vehicles transporting goods will be allowed to travel from one district to another.
The curfew currently in place from 21:00 to 05:30 has been maintained until mid-July.
Shops and markets remain open, provided they comply with government health regulations, but bars remain closed.
The weekly open market days and church services also remain suspended.
Uganda had adopted strong measures to fight the Covid-19 epidemic as early as March 2020 and the country has relatively been spared from the virus but infections have been increasing in recent weeks, as well as the number of severe cases.
"The proportion of severe or critical cases due to Covid-19, as well as deaths, is higher in this wave than in the first wave of the pandemic," Museveni said.
Museveni further confirmed that the country had recorded as many severe and critical cases of Covid-19 in two weeks as it did in the first three to four-month period during the first wave.
The new restrictions will remain in place for a period of 42 days. Assessment will be conducted to determine if the restrictions can be renewed or not.
The country has so far registered 52,935 cases, including 383 deaths but the number of tests conducted remain low. Some health practitioners believe these figures are likely underestimated.
The Ministry of Health recently announced that all intensive care and high-dependency beds in the country were already occupied.
As in many countries on the African continent, vaccination against Covid-19 is progressing very slowly: barely 750,000 people have received one dose (35,000 have received two doses) in a country of some 45 million people.
Below are the new restrictions.
All schools and institutions of higher learning to close for 42 days effective 8 am, 7th June 2021.
All teachers to fully get vaccinated before they are accepted in schools.
Communal prayers in Mosques, Churches or in Stadia and other open-air, venues are suspended for 42 days.
Public and Cultural gatherings or Conferences, EXCEPT for the sitting of the Cabinet, Legislature and Judiciary, are hereby suspended for 42 days.
Travel from Category 1 countries, as defined by the Ministry of Health, remain suspended except returning Ugandans. At the moment, only India is listed as category A.
Agricultural activities which are: cultivating or ploughing gardens, herding livestock (whether free-range or zero-grazing) and fishing for fish farming to continue because fortunately, most of them do not encourage crowding.
The non-agricultural activities that will be allowed to continue are factory activities, construction activities, shopping malls, super-markets to continue while observing SOPs issued by the Ministry of Health.
These gathering points such as factories hotels, large plantations, markets, taxi parks, etc., should be allowed to operate under strict observance of SOPS.
Marriage ceremonies, parties, and all other social gatherings are only allowed with a maximum of 20 people under strict observance of SOPs. House parties are strictly banned and this must be enforced without fail. All guests should wear masks and keep their physical distance.
Number of persons at burials, vigils and funerals should NOT exceed 20 people. All should wear masks and socials distance.
Weekly non-food markets (Mibuulo Markets) are suspended for 42 days throughout the country.
Also suspended for 42 days are the monthly cattle auction Markets.
All public transport (Buses, Taxis, Boda Bodas) between and across districts are suspended for 42 days effective 10th June 2021. This is to allow our children to go home.
All inter-district travel banned except travel within Kampala Metropolitan (Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono).
Exemption for Interdistrict travel and movement of vehicles are: Cargo trucks, registered tourist vehicles essential and Emergency Services vehicles.
Public transport within the same district is allowed with strict observance of SOPs as previously described.
Cargo trucks are allowed only 2 people.
Bars, discos, music shows, cinemas and
concerts remain closed.
Sports events will operate under strict observance of SOPs with no spectators. All players must have a negative PCR test.
Private vehicles should be restricted to not more than 3 people including the driver.
Lodges should be allowed to operate but the bars in these places should not be operational.
Construction sites are allowed to continue under strict observance of SoPs.
Private cars are allowed to cross the border provided they observe SoPs and occupants have a negative PCR test result.