As the long-awaited reopening of shopping malls and general merchandise shops takes effect today, government has insisted that arcades are to remain closed until further notice.
The easing of restrictions on some sections of businesses follows a directive by the President on June 1.
Ms Amelia Kyambadde, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, yesterday said the shops that are allowed to open should follow the social distancing measures to keep at least two metres apart within the premises and have washing point or sanitisers at the facilities.
Ms Kyambadde adds that customers should wear masks and shop keepers should only serve one person at a time.
“All non-food items sold by wholesale and retail shops located outside the arcades, malls, and food markets are allowed to open. The stand-alone shops are also allowed to open but must observe all standard operating procedures as explained by the President,” Ms Kyambadde said.
Also okayed to open are the Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (SACCOs) but must also observe all SOPs.
According to Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, arcades will remain closed because they are congested and lack convenient parking space.
“The differences between shopping malls and arcades, in terms of entrances; shopping malls have two major entrances and one emergency exit while arcades have multiple entries, when it comes to mobility, shopping malls have organised movement of human traffic, whereas arcades are congested and mixed with luggage carriers,” Ms Kyambadde explained further.
Government has called upon local and urban authorities through the district commercial officers to ensure compliance with the guidelines.
Currently, government is still negotiating with different landlords on how to handle rent issues.
Meanwhile, there has been a reduction in Uganda’s trade performance in terms of imports and exports as result of Covid-19.
“What was imported in March was worth more than $565 million and what was exported was more than $264m and in April we imported commodities of more than $406 million and exported goods worth more than $206 million,” Ms Kyambadde said.