By Lamin Cham
The Gambia has been placed under a night curfew for the next 21 days starting tonight as part of measures introduced by President Adama Barrow to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The curfew will start from 10pm to 5am each day.
Also, as part of the measures under a new state of emergency, all congregational prayers in mosques and churches are banned as sea, land and air borders remain tightly closed.
The measures, which were conveyed in a statement from Government Spokesman Ebrima Sankareh, also said the army could be deployed to enforce these measures.
The full statement is reproduced below:
In the wake of the worrisome trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in The Gambia, His Excellency President Adama Barrow in exercise of the powers vested in him by Section 34 (1) (a) and pursuant to Section 34 (2) of the 1997 Constitution declares a State of Public Emergency effective midnight tonight and a curfew effective tomorrow, 6th August 2020 throughout The Gambia for a period of 21 days.
The Public Health (Dangerous Infectious Diseases) Protection Regulations, 2020 shall continue to operate side by side with these new accompanying Regulations:
1. All houses of worship (mosques, churches, etc.,) shall remain closed. Mosques or churches shall be used solely for calls to prayers or religious announcements. All forms of gatherings at mosques and churches are prohibited;
2. Night curfew is hereby imposed throughout the jurisdiction of The Gambia from 10pm to 5am daily. Only persons on official COVID-19 duties, ambulances and public officials on essential assignments are exempted from the curfew. Anyone who violates the curfew commits an offence and is liable to a fine of Five Thousand Gambian Dalasi (D5,000).
3. All educational institutions (Universities, Colleges, Schools, Madrassas, Daras, Majalis and Gamos) shall remain closed. However, Grade 12 students are exempted only for the period of their WAEC/WASSCE exams from 17th August to the 7th September 2020. These schools shall open solely for the purpose of administering exit exams;
4. All non-food outlets in all markets throughout The Gambia shall remain closed. Exemptions are granted to banks and financial institutions, pharmacies, drug stores, supermarkets and mini markets, local corner shops and essential food traders. The markets shall be opened between 6am and 2pm daily;
5. All markets and shopping areas in The Gambia shall be closed on Sundays for cleansing or necessary fumigation by Area and Municipal Councils;
6. All land, sea and air borders of The Gambia remain closed. Entry and exit of persons into The Gambia is suspended except for diplomats, drivers of essential commodities and persons seeking urgent medical attention abroad;
7. Only cargo and humanitarian flights bringing Gambians home, diplomats or humanitarian workers will be allowed subject to them seeking and obtaining prior approvals among other stringent conditions. Any passenger destined for The Gambia shall be in possession of a valid certificate from points of departure indicating that he or she took a COVID-19 test with a negative result at least 72 hours before boarding. A person who breaches this Regulation on the border closures commits an offence and is liable upon conviction to a fine of Five Thousand Gambian Dalasi (D5,000);
8. The Armed Forces may be deployed pursuant to Section 187(1)(b) of the Constitution of The Gambia to support the civil authorities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is disheartening to realize that several of our loved ones, among them prominent citizens have succumbed to this deadly ailment while others continue to undergo treatment as others still battle for their lives. President Barrow, The First Family and the Government of The Gambia stand in solidarity with all citizens and residents by expressing their heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of those who died of the COVID-19 virus and remain committed to fight harder against this dangerous disease.
In this most critical hour of our existence, with a virus that poses an existential threat to all of mankind, President Barrow calls on every citizen regardless of your social class or political orientation to come together as one people, with one goal so we can all be victorious. This he asks of every Gambian, from Banjul to Basse, Kartong to Koina as well as those in Diaspora.