The government is to undertake a mass distribution of free face masks as part of the initiatives being adopted to curtail further spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is one of the measures that the cabinet approved last week in preparation for the lifting of the Covid-19 induced lockdown that has been in place since March.
In a televised speech on Monday evening from State House, Nakasero, President Yoweri Museveni announced that under the initiative, all Ugandans aged six years and above will receive free reusable masks.
“The government will provide standard masks to all Ugandans aged 6 years and above, these will be distributed through the District Local Council system. Each person will be allocated one mask which must be worn all the time when in public,” Museveni said.
Museveni said that this was reached upon a realisation that a sizeable portion of the population cannot afford the cost of the masks.
And once he is sure that all Ugandans have the masks, Museveni will then ease the restrictions that he has separately been announcing since March.
In his Monday night speech, Museveni announced a relaxation of restrictions on the use of private cars, the opening of some of the businesses like shops selling general merchandise provided they are not in malls or markets and the resumption of public transport.
“The measures to ease lockdown as addressed today will be activated only when each individual has received a standard mask distributed by the government of Uganda,” Museveni said.
Once allowed back on the roads, public transport operators will carry half their normal capacity to avoid overcrowding – which increases the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Restrictions on public transport will remain standing at least for another 21 days in all border districts.
Bodaboda and tuk-tuk riders also have to wait for another 21 days before they can carry passengers.
The president also allowed for the reopening of schools for candidate classes; P7, S4, S6 and finalists in tertiary institutions and universities. The rest of the learners, Museveni said, will have to be a little more patient since “it’s better to be alive.”
Museveni also allowed hotels and food restaurants to open but with strict observance of the social distancing guidelines and without air conditioning.
Facilities like bars, night clubs, salons, gyms, swimming pools, saunas, arcades, shopping malls among others where social distancing is hard to enforce will remain closed.
The air, land and water borders will remain closed as the overnight curfew was also extended for another 21 days.