By Uzman Unis Bah
President Julius Maada Bio in a televised statement on the 9th July 2020 announced the reopening of the Lungi International Airport, with all scheduled commercial flights starting operation on Wednesday, 22nd July 2020.
Ministry Transport and Aviation has completed an audit of the planned procedures and plotted all possible situations for arrivals and departures at Lungi International Airport, the president affirms.
Comprehensive guidelines will be issued by the National COVID-19 Response Centre (NACOVERC) on the new procedures for air travel to and from Sierra Leone, the president said.
The government has taken measures to safeguard the lives of the citizens through an inclusive discussion with stakeholders and experts and urges everyone to adhere to strict compliance with all public health directives.
Moreover, the president also announced the easing of restrictions on places of worship, mosques and churches will reopen from Monday 13th of July 2020; and curfew hours are shifted from 11 PM to AM, the president states.
NACOVERC is expected to announce broad measures, which will be introduced by the Interreligious Council that will allow for the safe practice of all faiths. The president further warns leaders of all gatherings to make compulsory compliance with all protective measures against COVID-19 at their places of worship.
“Based on expert advice on the aerosol transmission of COVID-19 and the possible risk of rapid community infection among congregations, we advisedly closed all places of worship. I have since then held multiple consultations with the Inter-Religious Council, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Ministry of Health officials, NACOVERC officials, experts, and other stakeholders,” Bio said.
The president urged citizens to take individual responsibility for protecting themselves and their families and friends from COVID-19. “Persons who are refusing to comply with health directives are exposing themselves, their loved ones, and their communities to the grave risk of infection and possible death,” the president cautioned.
Sierra Leone was the last country to register COVID-19 a case in West Africa on the 31st March 2020, but now the country’s figures are higher than that of Liberia and the Gambia combined. Relaxing the COVID-19 restrictions does not mean the West Africa country is free from the affliction of the Novel Coronavirus; it’s still intertwined in the woods.