On Monday evening, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni partially lifted the lockdown of universities allowing undergraduate and postgraduate final year students to resume classes.
In his address, Museveni noted that the finalists will report in two weeks time after masks have been distributed to all citizens of Uganda free of charge. He also allowed public transport to resume (carrying half passengers of the initial total) but emphasized that public transport in border districts will not be open. With many final year students originating from all corners of Uganda, one wonders how they will be able to report back to campus without public transport.
President Museveni also maintained the 7pm curfew time. Many final year students are wondering, will they now attend day classes? If yes, what happens to working students?
The International students who had also travelled back to their countries of origin are left flabbergasted as they are not certain of reporting back since lockdown on international flights and land borders was maintained for another 21 days.
KEY TAKE-AWAYS FROM TONIGHT’S PRESIDENTIAL COVID-19 ADDRESS
Once the issue of universal access to standard/recommended face masks is addressed, then:
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.