MONROVIA, Montserrado – The minister of health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, has announced a revised set of guidelines that the country is expected to adhere to curb the spread of the Coronavirus since the state of emergency has now ended.
Jallah said the new measures are in line with the Public Health Law and they come as the country has already registered 1,114 COVID-19 cases and 70 deaths.
The revised set of guidelines state that all persons must wear masks that cover both the mouth and nose when in public. Public places like markets, health facilities, transportation vehicles, and government institutions and agencies are also expected to follow a “No mask, no entry, no service” policy.
Schools and universities will continue to be closed, but 12th graders currently preparing for the regional West African Senior School Certificate Examinations will be given special consideration.
The minister also noted that places of worship would be allowed to operate, provided that people wear masks, wash their hands, and maintain a social distance of at least three feet. The same guidance applies to large gatherings too.
Barbershops and beauty parlors will also be allowed to operate as long as they also adhere to the health guidelines mentioned above.
On public transport, taxis will be restricted to carrying three persons in the back and one in front, while motorized tricycles, known as kehkehs, will transport only two passengers in the back.
The most noticeable part of Jallah’s announcement was that bars and nightclubs are to remain closed. However, restaurants and other places that serve alcohol may remain open until 9 p.m. as long as they follow set guidelines.
Jallah said the penalty for violating these guidelines, according to Section 14.6 of the Public Health Act, is a fine of no more than US$200, 30-day imprisonment, or both.
The minister ended the announcement with a message of hope saying that “with your help, we can, we will kick out COVID-19.”
Whether these measures will be enough to curtail the spread of the disease is unclear. Health authorities have been issuing proclamations and health protocols since the beginning of the pandemic, but Liberia’s Coronavirus situation has not really improved. Although authorities directed the public to wear masks months ago, there has been little adherence to the measure, even among officials and government employees. Moreover, markets in Monrovia operate with little to no distance between traders and shoppers.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah