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COVID-19: Uganda Bans End of Year Fireworks, Overnight Prayers

The Ugandan Government has announced a ban on firing fireworks while ushering in a new year on January 1, 2021.

“The regular routine of coming out in trading centres to celebrate the New Year at midnight should be canceled,” said Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Judith Nabakooba.

“Please, stay in your homes and welcome the New Year with your family. Let us use this new year’s Eve to thank the Almighty God for having kept us alive and pray for a better 2021,” she added.

Uganda usually ushers in the New Year with massive celebrations.

However, to prevent further spread of COVID-19, government has maintained a ban on public gatherings.

“Police will not give permission for fireworks this time. Fireworks are usually accompanied by people staying up late and gathering around particular place. This gathering and funfair increases the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Nabakooba.

The Minister further noted that all other public and end of the year festivities such as concerts, overnight prayers, discotheques are “not allowed,” adding that all other existing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) such as curfew, traffic rules remain in place and will be enforced by police.

Meanwhile, Nabakooba blasted opposition presidential candidates who have vowed to defy the Electoral Commission’s decision to ban election campaigns in 11 districts which have been marked as COVID-19 hotspots.

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The Electoral Commission chairman Justice Simon Byabakama, on Saturday December 26, 2020, suspended election campaigns in the districts of Kampala, Jinja, Kabarole, Masaka, Kazo, Wakiso, Tororo, Luweero, Mbarara, Kalungu and Kasese.

The opposition presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP) and his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) counterpart Patrick Amuriat Oboi vowed to defy the Electoral Commission’s decision.

A broad Coalition of election observers, the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) Executive Director Charity Ahimbisibwe described the suspension of campaigns in what she termed “opposition strongholds” as “suspect.”

Nabakooba said that districts such as Kampala, Wakiso and Masaka have consistently been “super spreaders” of COVID-19 with others registering a high number registered of daily new infections.

“Given the nature of campaigns with some candidates failing to adhere to the SOPs, cancelling campaign activities is going to save lives. It is however unfortunate to hear some candidates already coming and declaring defiance against the new measures. I call upon members of the public to ignore such candidates who intend to defy the new campaign measures,” said Nabakooba.

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