Gambia: Do We Have a Lockdown or Shut Down of Activity in Public Space?

The Association of Local Government Authorities, including the Mayoress of Banjul has called for a lockdown. What is concretely meant by lockdown is yet to be properly explained. In many other places lock down would mean that no one is allowed to move out of one's home and no person is allowed to travel from one region or town to another region or town. This would require preparation to ration food and services and answer to the call for medical assistance.

The Government imposed a curfew and closed down many facilities including shops that are not selling foodstuff.

Unlike the first instance the Public has started to react by cleaning markets and asking the councils to fumigate them. Streets are now less congested and shopkeepers are coping with the regulations with a question mark on how long they would have to close down. The Heath workers are earning greater sympathy as people see them more as heroes and heroines as more patients recover from the illness . The disclosure of the status of the Vice President, The Ministers , The Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality have lessen the stigma associated with the illness which had influenced family members to shun the medical and health field . The Government needs to react by setting up an Inter-ministerial task force that would comprise of Health , Finance ,Trade ,Transport, Information , Interior , Defence and Justice to look into the implementation of the regulations and create short , medium and long term measures to address the challenges faced by each sector in implementing the regulations. They should speak to the people daily to enable them to know what to expect. NGOs should be mobilized to play their part. The red cross is specializing in fumigating public facilities. It should be empowered to expand its services. The momentum in keeping safe distance, sanitizing hands and wearing mask and doing testing when signs are evident should be continued. However, measures should be reviewed daily and unreasonable and unjustifiable ones should be revoked to win public trust and confidence. This is the way forward.

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