Inside Museveni’s speech as lockdown is eased in Uganda

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President Museveni; File Photo

Shops selling General merchandise but outside malls and markets will be allowed to open but within Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs).

President Museveni announced that government will provide standard masks to all Ugandans of six years and above. The masks will be distributed free of charge through the Local Council (LC) system. Each person will be allocated one mask which must be worn all the time when in public.

Regulated public transport including use of minibuses 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 locdown are tagged on 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.

Bars, salons, night clubs, gyms, saunas will not be allowed for open for another 21 days.

Airport and international borders remain closed to stop 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 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 in spite 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.

On the issue of Ugandans trapped abroad, Museveni said Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health are discussing a cabinet paper which 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.

According to the the president, 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.

Museveni congratulated health workers for tracking and treating patients, armed forces for their support efforts towards the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, and LCs and people for vigilance.

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