Sierra Leone relaxes Covid-19 restrictions despite rising cases

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What you need to know:

  • The government said the relaxation is necessary to return the country to normalcy.
  • People will now move freely between districts without requiring to produce an authorisation pass.
  • Plans are also afoot to reopen Sierra Leone’s only international airport

Sierra Leone has announced an end to over two months of inter-district Covid-19 blockade.

This is part of the relaxation of restrictions in what the government said is necessary to return the country to normalcy.

President Julius Maada Bio, who also announced the easing of a 10-hour nationwide curfew, said Tuesday that the restrictions were imposed to save lives and that it is time to consider their effects on the country’s struggling economy.

The move means that people will now move freely between districts without requiring to produce an authorisation pass.

OPEN AIRPORT

Plans are also underway to reopen Sierra Leone’s only international airport, which is currently open only for emergency services.

The restrictions were first imposed on April 12, 2020 after the country recorded its index case of the viral disease which continues to spiral by the day.

As of Tuesday Sierra Leone had recorded 1,347 cases with 55 deaths.

“The fight against Covid-19 is a fight between livelihood and life. It has to be measured,” the President said at a special press conference held at State House in Freetown.

“We should not kill the economy, especially in the region by continuing to maintain the rigid or hard lockdown that we have put in place,” he added.

MEASURES TO BE REVIEWED

The president said the decisions were taken after consultations with experts and based on scientific data. He added that the measures will be reviewed as and when necessary.

Sierra Leone was the last country to record a case of the viral disease on March 30. But it has since surpassed many countries in the region in terms of cases.

Critics say this shows that the measures the government put in place were not working.

Like Sierra Leone, both its two neighbours – Guinea and Liberia – remain locked down from the outside world.

President Bio said a regional dialogue among leaders of the four-member Mano River Union, comprising Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, is being planned to discuss an approach to reopen their international borders.