National News

Rwanda Suspends Lock-down partially opens up the Economy

The Rwandan government Thursday announced that it was easing the current nationwide lockdown, one of the measures it put in place on March 17 to check the spread of coronavirus pandemic.
A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame resolved to ease the restrictions effective May 4, but with some exceptions and restrictions, including adherence to health guidelines while bars, churches and schools will remain closed – the latter until September at the earliest.

The new guidelines will be reviewed after 15 days upon a health assessment.
“Public and private businesses will resume with essential staff while other employees continue working from home,” Prime Minister Edouard Ngirete said in a statement.
Markets will open for essential vendors not exceeding 50 percent of registered traders while the manufacturing and construction sectors were also allowed to open for only essential workers.

“Public buses will be operational in Kigali but operators are required to ensure that passengers maintain social distancing and only passengers with facemasks will be allowed on-board,” the statement added.
However, private and public transport will only be restricted to Kigali, meaning no motorists will be allowed to commute upcountry or vice versa until further notice – except for those transporting essential services such as medicines or patients, and farm produce.

The decision, however, comes as cases of Covid-19 continue to rise in the central African country. Hours before the cabinet decision was communicated to the public, the health ministry announced 18 new confirmed cases of the disease, taking the total tally to 243.
The ministry said the majority of the new cases were transnational truck drivers, mainly from the neighbouring Tanzania where the wrath of the pandemic has been most felt in the region.

Tanzania initially appeared to downplay the pandemic but now has the highest number of cases in the region at 480. Sixteen have died in the country, official figures say. Kenya, the first to confirm Covid-19 on March 13, have lost 17 people to the disease out of the 396 confirmed cases.
Uganda has been the most effective in containing the global pandemic with only 83 confirmed cases, almost all but two since April 15, being foreign truck drivers.

Rwanda maintains curfew
In his message, President Kagame lauded Rwandans for adhering to the measures but said even as his government resolved to lift the lockdown, mass screening will take place. He urged everyone going out to wear a facemask and avoid crowding.
“The fight is not over,” Kagame said.

Among the restrictions that will be continued from Monday for the next 15 days include a strict curfew starting at 8pm till dawn except for those with permission.
The restriction includes sports facilities and gyms but individuals allowed to exercise in open spaces.
“Borders will also remain closed, except for cargo and returning Rwandans and legal residents who will still have to first stay in a 14-day quarantine,” the statement added.

Services to resume
• Public and private businesses will resume with essential staff while other employees continue working from home.
• Markets will open for essential vendors not exceeding 50% of registered traders.
• Manufacturing and construction sectors will open with essential workers.
• Hotels and restaurants will operate but close by 7PM.
• Individual sporting activity in open spaces is permitted however sports facilities shall remain closed.
• Public and private transport will resume within the same province.
• Bus operators will ensure passengers maintain social distancing and only passengers with masks will be allowed onboard.
• Funeral gatherings should not exceed 30 persons.
Services to remain closed
• Schools will remain closed until September 2020.
• Places of worship will remain closed.
• Gyms and recreational centres will remain closed.
• All bars will remain closed.
• Public and private transport between different provinces and city of Kigali is not permitted.
• Motorcycles and bicycles are not permitted to carry passengers, but may carry goods and continue to offer delivery services.
• Borders will remain closed, except for goods and cargo, as well as returning Rwandan citizens and legal residents, who will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine.
• Meetings in public spaces and mass gatherings are prohibited.
• The current measures will remain until Monday, May 4th 2020 when new guidelines will take effect and reviewed after 15 days upon a health assessment.

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