Lessons learnt from lockdown: Kigali residents speak out as businesses resume

On 2 August 2021 at 05:54

Residents from different parts of Kigali City have expressed delight for the reopening of businesses following 15 days of lockdown and pledged to avoid complacency against instituted COVID-19 preventive measures to avoid another lockdown.

The lockdown in Kigali City and eight districts considered major hotspots for new infections was imposed from 17th through 26th July 2021. It was later extended for five days to gather more information about status of the pandemic.

The cabinet meeting held on Friday chaired by President Paul Kagame took new COVID-19 containment measures lifting the lockdown in Kigali City and the eight districts including Burera, Rubavu, Gicumbi, Kamonyi, Musanze, Rutsiro, Rwamagana and Nyagatare. The decision took effect from Sunday 1st through 15th August 2021.

The cabinet meeting also allowed movements between Kigali City and other provinces and districts of the country except movements from and to selected sectors recently placed under lockdown. Movements are prohibited from 6p.m through 4a.m while all businesses must close by 5p.m.

Among others, public and private offices are allowed to reopen at 15% capacity while other employees must continue working from home.

Private businesses shall continue operations with essential staff at no more than 50% capacity, meetings and conferences are allowed not exceeding 30% of venue capacity, public transport should not exceed 50%, restaurants and cafés are allowed providing takeaway services only.

Civil and religious weddings are also allowed to a maximum of 10 people but all guests must present negative COVID-19 tests within 72 hours.

As new measures came into force on Sunday, residents of Kigali expressed delight for resumed operations and pledged to scale up efforts to adhere to national preventive directives.

Speaking to IGIHE; Innocent Barihuta, an employee working with Virunga Express revealed that the lockdown presented unusual times and thanked the Government for intervention to feed vulnerable residents hit hard.

“People depending on daily work do not earn income during lockdown but we were lucky that the Government provided food assistance. We are grateful from the bottom our hearts for the kind support to help us move on during such period of uncertainty,” he said.

Despite difficulties they went through, residents expressed optimism that things will go smoothly and bring the situation to normal gradually with strict compliance to COVID-19 preventive measures.

François Semanzi, a driver of buses heading to Eastern Province is among residents who shared lessons pulled from lockdown.

“All activities are on a standstill during lockdown yet savings are spent to feed children. You can easily understand how tough the situation is, when the lockdown is prolonged without enough reserves.”

He pledged to own measures and remind all passengers to remain compliant by keeping social distancing, wearing masks properly and sanitizing their hands.

Emeline Byukusenge lost a relative during the lockdown and could not attend his burial in Rwamagana. She had not visited her family until the lockdown was lifted.

“My grandmother died and was buried during lockdown. Lifting the lockdown allows me to visit my family but it also leaves a lesson to remain adherent to containment measures to avoid errant behaviors which could lead to halting movements and other activities,” she said.

Merchants whom we met in Kimironko market also committed to respect instituted measures to stay safe and continue their activities without disruptions.

“We have not yet started receiving clients as usual because some people might be hard up following days of lockdown. We are aware of surging COVID-19 cases and understand that it is our responsibility to own preventive measures. We are respecting all guidelines and 50% occupancy to avoid whatever that could undermine national efforts,” said Kankuyo Edisa, a vendor of fruits and vegetables.

Fabrice Ishimwe, a vendor of shoes in the same market also pledged to avoid complacency and remind his customers to respect health guidelines.

“We are delighted to see the lockdown lifted and convinced that it should not give loopholes for spread of the pandemic but rather concert efforts to tighten measures. That is why it is of utmost importance to remind every customer to wear a face mask properly, make payments digitally to avoid transmission of the virus. We can only defeat the pandemic if everyone acts responsibly,” he said.

Newly instituted measures will be reviewed after two weeks upon health assessment.

Citizens are reminded to continue adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures, keep social distancing, wear face mask properly, wash hands frequently and avoid unnecessary movements among others.