As you are all aware, new lockdown measures were issued by H.E The President on the 18.06.2021, to help curb the transmission rates of the deadly variant of COVID-19 in the country. The measures range from the ban on movements and large gatherings, closure of non-essential business and shopping centres, stay at home orders, mask mandates, social distancing and proper hygiene. As of today 21/06/2021, we have entered day three, of the 42 day lockdown and curfew provisions. We still have 39 days to the end of the lockdown. During the week, we registered between 14th-18th of June, a total of 7022 new cases of COVID-19 and 201 deaths, across the country. We need to stop seeing more and more people lose their lives and loved ones to the virus.
As a result, we are asking the public to abide by the new lockdown measures to stay safe. It is however unfortunate that in the face of the pandemic, some elements within the opposition have started politicizing the lockdown and mobilizing people to demonstrate. They are inciting traders, especially in Kampala, to forcefully reopen their businesses against the lockdown directives. The meetings are being conducted in markets under the guise of sensitizing the public against the SOPs.
With all the number of hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19, we urge politicians not to seek political gains from the crisis of the pandemic, as any attempt to downplay the grave crisis of the pandemic, will only lead to loss of more lives and an increase in hospitalizations. Almost every sector, from traders, civil servants, boda-boda riders health workers, politicians, has lost a loved one. This shows the pandemic is real and not over.
We urge the masterminds, organisers and intending participants to act responsibly as these kinds of illegal protests and unlawful processions are prohibited under the public health orders. They should instead work with all stakeholders in solidarity to stop the deadly virus.
The good thing is that we are already aware of such groups, looking to gather to protest in the middle of the deadly variant. We have instructed our territorial commanders to have a hands-on approach and take action against any illegal protesters. Remember law enforcement agencies have the solemn responsibility to protect Ugandans and visitors, amidst the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Going forward, the public should expect tougher action against all COVID offenders and defaulters, who continue to blatantly and deliberately flout the new lockdown regulations. In the course of last week, a total of 857 persons were arrested countrywide for flouting the lockdown and curfew restrictions; 600 motorvehicles were impounded, out of which 493 motor vehicles were issued with EPS tickets, 107 are still pending clearance; 2,762 motorcycles were impounded out of which 2430 were issued with EPS tickets, 332 are still parked and pending clearance.
This morning we have impounded several motor vehicles and motorcycles and disrupted movements of persons trying to breach the new lockdown measures with all forms of excuses to move. You should expect more search and stopovers of motorists and pedestrians, with security personnel demanding an explanation about why they are out and about.
All along we have been pleading with the public to follow SOPs, but now we have reached a stage where the endless reminders must stop in exchange for stricter enforcement. For emphasis, all our frontline officers have been given guidelines to follow at checkpoints and how to verify the bar codes or all stickers issued by the Ministry of Works and Transport.
- The ban on movements of public transport like buses, taxis, boda-bodas, and private cars still stands. However exceptional grounds will be granted when transporting patients who require medical care or evacuation.
- In addition, boda bodas are strictly allowed to carry only merchandise and food items within the time limits of 5.30 AM to 5 PM.
- The task teams at all check points will verify the status of the authenticity of travel authorizations by scanning the embedded QR codes.
- All markets selling food items remain open, while other non-essential markets remain closed. Market vendors are encouraged to operate their workplace with support from Ministry of Health.
- All cargo trucks shall continue operating while delivering food and essential commodities. They should strictly carry two persons including the driver.
- Cargo tracks moving in and out of Uganda shall park at designated areas and not trading centres.
- All emergency vehicles are allowed to move.
- All factories shall remain open not to disrupt the supply chain. Factory workers are encouraged to remain at the site, and where possible, factory owners should work out modalities with the technical team on transportation of workers.
- Curfew will remain in force from 7 pm to 5.30 am.
- All places of worship, sporting centres, schools and institutions of higher learning, bars, discos, Kikubo and other similar businesses centres remain closed.
- Physical presence of staff in non-core offices to be reduced to 10% for all MDAs.
- Entebbe International Airport to remain open
- Tourists are allowed to move using designated and marked tourist motor vehicles.
- Although the guidance exclude security organs such as the Uganda police force, the army and Uganda prisons service, any security personnel found misusing private motor vehicles and or institutional vehicles shall be arrested. The habit of displaying security jackets in cars while on non official business MUST stop. All our Alert Squads are ready to counter such acts of professional misconduct, apart from JIC personnel.
- All essential service utility motor vehicles in the private sector and NGOs should carry valid travel authorisations. All staff should possess valid IDs or tags.
- All travel requests outside Kampala for burial, medical reasons or returning persons shall be obtained through the Ministry of Works and Transport.
- All members of diplomatic corps shall use vehicles registered under diplomatic number plates and limited to the greater Kampala metropolitan area. Movements outside Greater Kampala Metropolitan to be coordinated in liaison with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Requests from upcountry shall be handled by the Regional And District Task Force.
The public should know that all these measures are focused on curbing the further transmission of covid-19 and avoid a major crisis. We have deployed sufficient manpower to combat any unlawful acts and will take very resolute enforcement action in strict accordance with the law, in order to promote rule of law, protect public order and public safety.
We also want to thank the majority of Ugandans who are law-abiding and broadly following the guidelines. We further applaud them for their extra vigilance. Many Ugandans have seemingly realized the severity of the situation, with the majority wearing masks and observing the provisions of the lockdown. Those few still complaining that the new lockdown restrictions were ruining their jobs, business and lifestyles, should know that covid-19 is real. If we remain safe and healthy, we can always go back to finding jobs, our businesses, schools and colleges. etc.
We are also limiting our policing efforts to violent or serious crimes. All minor incidents shall be handled via phone calls or online as, opposed to physical arrests and detention. Online reporting of cases can be done via the UPF MOBI APP that is easily downloaded from Google Play Store. We encourage the public to report acts of non-compliance on contact number 0800300100, 0713250391, 0714012734.
CP FRED ENANGA