Compulsory face masks policy starts on May 19

Thursday May 14 2020
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Compliance. Women wear masks they purchased from vendors in Wandegeya, Kampala, on May 6. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

Government has gazetted May 19 as the day it will start enforcing the compulsory wearing of face masks by Ugandans.
It will also mark 62 days since government closed the borders and started the eventual lockdown over coronavirus,
While easing the lockdown on May 4, President Museveni announced compulsory wearing of masks by all those who step out of their homes.
“We are going to make it mandatory for everybody who is not in his/her house to wear a cloth face mask covering all the time; the mouth and the nose,” Mr Museveni said.
During the national prayers at Statehouse last Saturday, the President also said the reopening of public transport will depend on whether Ugandans comply with compulsory wearing of masks in public places.

The compulsory wearing of masks is contained in a statutory instrument supplement number 18 dated May 8, which is an amendment of the instrument number 64 of 2020.
“Every person shall at all times, while outside his or her place of residence wear a facial mask,” and … substituting for 5th May 2020 wherever the date appears in the Rules, the date 19, May 2020,” the instrument issued by Dr Ruth Jane Aceng, the minister of Health, reads.
Nytil Textiles Ltd is already manufacturing reusable masks and each piece on retail market goes at Shs2,000.
However, Ms Stella Anyango, the treasurer of Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union, Mulago Hospital branch, said after a day’s use, when the face mask is washed, it expands and loses quality easily.

“For the Nytil clothing material, if you use it today and wash it, it keeps on enlarging. I believe it creates so many pores and I don’t think it is so genuine to use the next day or any other time,” Ms Anyango said.
“You can’t also iron it because the type of material used is like elastic. It just becomes flabby and most of them become large and fall off,” she added.
Nytil officials were not readily available to respond to the issue of quality of the masks they are producing. President Museveni has been publicly praising the company and a number of others for reconfiguring their machines to start manufacturing masks in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Aceng also in the same statutory instrument extended the working hours for the insurance companies from up to 2pm to 5pm.
The minister also amended the presidential directive on the number of lawyers to offer legal services during the lockdown.

The President had said the number of lawyers allowed to operate at any given time should not exceed 30. However, in the instrument, Dr Aceng has replaced that with the number of vehicles allocated to the lawyers at any given time.
“By inserting the subtitle 1 immediately after paragraph (r) the following – “(s) legal services of the Uganda Law Society, which shall not exceed 30 vehicles on any given day,” the amendment reads.
The instrument maintains other sectors that are allowed to operate during this period.