Covid-19: Rwanda enforces lockdown measures

Sunday March 22 2020

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Many streets of Kigali look empty as business activities suspended due to covid-19. PHOTO | CYRIL Ndegeya  

JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
By JOHNSON KANAMUGIRE
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Rwanda has banned all unnecessary movements and visits outside homes nationwide in a two-week Covid-19 lockdown that will see only essential businesses allowed to operate.

Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente indicated in a statement that the country borders were closed to non-citizens while travels between different cities and districts are not permitted.

“Borders are closed except for goods and cargo, returning citizens and legal residents, who will be subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine,” states the new measures effective midnight Saturday March 21.

Government attributed the new restrictive measures to the need for additional steps to limit further spread of the coronavirus after the country recorded 17 infections on Friday March 20.

All shops and markets have been ordered to close except those selling food, hygiene and cleaning products, fuel or banking, among other essential items.

Urban and rural bars, which were earlier allowed to open until 9pm and 7pm respectively have also been ordered to close as restaurants and cafés will only provide take-away service.

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Public transport

Commercial motorcyclists are not permitted to carry passengers but they may offer delivery services.

Other public transport within cities will only operate for essential movements and with at least 1-meter distance between passengers.

“Schools and places of worship remain closed until further notice,” Government said, adding that all public and private sector employees must work from home, except those providing essential services.

Financial services

Meanwhile, the National Bank of Rwanda announced that banks, microfinance institutions and Savings and Credit cooperatives (SACCOS) will be open from 8am-3:00pm Monday to Friday to continue providing essential services.

However, to limit use of cash and mitigate risks of spreading coronavirus, the banking sector regulator said that third party cheques will not be allowed to be cashed out on counters.

“They should instead be banked. Personal cheques can only be cashed out to a daily maximum of Rwf1 million," reads the central bank statement.

Banks and Telecom companies removed all charges on electronic transactions.

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