Politics

Government to Provide Free Face Masks to Public-Museveni

President Museveni has announced that the government will provide free standard masks to all Ugandans of six years and above. he said the masks will be distributed free of charge through the Local Council (LC) system. And the masks will be ready in two weeks to come.

The president said in a televised address to update Ugandans on government efforts against the spread of the virus with 227 cases in the country, Each person will be allocated one mask which must be worn all the time when in public.

He said that Shops selling general merchandise will open provided they are not in shopping malls, arcades, or markets. For the markets, selling food items and non-food items should not be mixed. While they remain open, people should observe social distancing.

On  Ugandans trapped abroad, Mr. Museveni said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health are discussing a cabinet paper way that will inform the decision on the matter.

He said owing to huge numbers of Ugandans in the diaspora, and without a vaccine or treatment coupled with minimal capacity, the risk is great.

The president said Uganda has no capacity to manage two million citizens stranded in high-risk countries when they return home.

“Are you sure of the health of 2 million Ugandans in Europe? All we need is a thorough study and not engaging in shallow propagandizing.” He said.

Regulated public transport including the use of minibusses and buses will be allowed to operate provided they carry half of their normal capacity to avoid usual overcrowding.

This regulated public transport, however, will not operate in border districts.

People with private cars will only be allowed to drive when the masks are ready in two weeks. They will be allowed to move provided they carry only three passengers including the driver.

Motorcycles also known as boda-bodas and tuk-tuks are not allowed to carry presenters but can continue to transport cargo.

The National COVID-19 Taskforce chaired by the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda will meet to work out the finer Standard Operation Procedures in relation to measures announced today by the president to ease the lockdown.

However, dusk to dawn curfew in the country remains in place for 21 more days.

All the new adjustments in the lockdown are tagged on the availability of government-provided masks which will be available in 2 weeks.

On education, President Museveni said the only option possible is opening for candidate classes; This will provide space to avoid overcrowding and observing social distancing. In two weeks, the MOE and Sports will plan on how it will be implemented.

No first-term examinations will be organized, but schools and teachers will prepare for final examinations.

“We need the cargo for our survival but also for our prosperity inspire of this problem; much of the inbound and outbound cargo is ours…we’re not carrying other people’s cargo…it is OURS,” President Museveni said.

Bars, salons, night clubs, gyms, saunas will not be allowed for open for another 21 days. Airport and international borders remain closed to stop the importation of the virus.

On the contentious issue of cargo drivers, the president maintained that it is suicidal to block cargo trucks from coming into the country.
He said 75 percent of cargo plying across Uganda are for Uganda mainly coffee, tea, cement, steel bars, sugar, maize, and milk products going to external markets, while the ones coming in ferrying in machinery, raw materials, defense weapons, and other products to strengthen the country generally. He said, therefore, it is a wrong strategy to block cargo.

He, however, noted that strategies like employing testing kits on border points which will facilitate quick processing of results will enable the strategy of blocking the entry of positive cases into Uganda. Only drivers who test negative will be allowed in the country.

“We need the cargo for our survival but also for our prosperity inspire of this problem; much of the inbound and outbound cargo is ours…we’re not carrying other people’s cargo…it is OURS,” President Museveni noted.

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