Despite numerous calls by Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) to reopen arcades that were closed in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, President Museveni has maintained that they remain closed.
In the multi-storeyed densely populated arcades with more entries and no parking, Museveni said, there is close clustering of people with unknown risk profiles and therefore pose a great threat.
He added that the arcades are an intercommunity coupled with poor ventilation, too busy to enforce social distancing which in turn increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
On June 1, 2020, Museveni allowed shopping malls to reopen which prompted arcade owners and traders to campaign for reopening of arcades.
Addressing the country about COVID-19 on Monday night, Museveni said that the country has already experienced clusters of Coronavirus in workplaces such a factory in Buikwe district and therefore the opening of arcades will be disastrous.
He ordered the COVID-19 National Task Force, Ministry of Health, and KCCA to engage arcade owners and pilot preventive procedures.
“The multiple entrances compounded with the convergence of people makes it difficult to track people in case of contact tracing. The National Task Force should direct the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Trade, and KCCA to engage with arcade owners to identify potential arcades to pilot prevention procedures,” said Museveni.
He added that the Ministries of Health, Trade, and KCCA should also review and enhance prevention compliance within the open shopping centers such as Kikuubo and other downtown centers.
Places of worship
Similarly, religious leaders including the Archbishop of Kampala archdiocese Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Shaban Ramadan Mubajje recently called on Museveni to reopen places of worship.
However, Museveni said places of worship are characterized by a variety of risks such as clustering of many people from multiple places of origin, difficult to implement measures such as social distancing, attracting any persons irrespective of their nature, lifestyle and risk profile among others and therefore contact tracing could be difficult.
“Contact tracing could be complex in events of exposure of multiple people to COVID-19 since there are no records or listing of results. The restrictions on religious gatherings should be maintained and reevaluated in the last phase of the lifting of restrictions. The National Task Force and the Ministry of Health should engage and involve religious leaders in the Coronavirus response across various levels.”
He added, “the Mosque and Church gatherings, now that we have this virus in the population will be an added problem while we are still struggling with public transport. We have opened public transport, we have opened private cars to move, we have opened shops if they are not in the arcades, now to add all this is to take on too much. So let’s first see how these work.”