Museveni observe social distancing
President Museveni said Churches, saloons, gyms, night clubs and bars to remain closed till further notice because they cannot observe social distancing. FILE PHOTO

President Museveni said Churches, saloons, gyms, night clubs and bars to remain closed till further notice because they cannot observe social distancing.

President Museveni on Monday said churches, saloons, gyms, saunas, bars and nightclubs cannot observe social distancing and as a result, they will remain non-operational until such a time when the government feels it’s necessary and safe.

“Such places by nature attract many persons irrespective of their nature, lifestyle and risk profile. Mitigation by use of masks, hand and cough hygiene may also be difficult to enforce,” President Museveni said while updating the nation on the next course of action in dealing with the ongoing coronavirus.

According to Museveni, most of the activities done in these places more so the salons, saunas and gyms involve close contact between the operators and their clients. 

“Salons also often have many customers from multiple risk profiles and settings. Contact tracing of exposed individuals, if this occurred, could also be complex without detailed contact information of the customers,” he said.

“Restrictions on salons should be maintained given the experiences elsewhere — salons have been documented to spread infections in other countries e.g. Ebola in West Africa, COVID-19 in the US, among others. NTF should direct the ministries of Health and Trade to engage with the salon owners to explore options for safety and training.”

On churches, the President said these also cluster many people with unknown health conditions which might create favourable grounds for further infections in case one or two people attending are sick.

Museveni observe social distancing
President Museveni said Churches, saloons, gyms, night clubs and bars to remain closed till further notice because they cannot observe social distancing. FILE PHOTO

Also, he explained that it is hard to enforce physical distancing in churches as well and that prevention by use of masks, hand and cough hygiene may also be difficult to enforce properly especially in special religious ceremonies such as the Holy Communion.

“Places of worship are characterized by clustering with many people of unknown risk from multiple points of origin — these will open multiple congregations across several religious denominations countrywide and potential to fuel infections across the country,_ Museveni explained.

“The various places of worship by nature attract persons irrespective of their nature, lifestyle and risk profile. Mitigation by use of masks, hand and cough hygiene may also be difficult to enforce complex especially in special religious ceremonies such as Holy Communion.”

He further added that because the attendants of the above places come from different areas countrywide, tracing those who might contract the virus in churches, bars, gyms, night clubs and their contacts is another hard and complex task which justifies government’s decision on them.

“Finally, contact tracing could be complex in the event of exposure of multiple people to COVID-19 since there are no records or listing of congregants.

“The restriction on religious gatherings should be maintained and reevaluated in the last phase of the lifting of restrictions. The NTF and MOH should engage and involve religious leaders in the COVID-19 response across various levels, given their critical role in shaping societal perspectives and behaviours.”