Effective Monday, February 8, the lockdown imposed on Kigali city will be lifted, paving way for new Covid-19 measures to be operational.
Lifting the lockdown was among others a result of a decrease in Covid-19 cases recorded in the city and the reduction in the number of Covid-19 fatalities.
On this note, according to the Ministry of Health, the country is nowadays recording an average between 50 and 60 daily infections, from about 200 daily Covid-19 cases that would be reported in Kigali before the lockdown.
The guidelines, to be observed until February 22, were adopted by a cabinet meeting held last week. Below are ten things to know about the new directives.
1. Curfew begins at 7 p.m
Going forward, movements will be prohibited between 7 p.m and 4 a.m. This applies to both Kigali and other provinces.
According to CP John Bosco Kabera, the Spokesperson of Rwanda National Police, there shouldn't be defenses for not observing the curfew.
"It is now a week since people were informed about this directive, therefore, we expect the public to observe the set measures and stop excuses of traffic jams and others, but instead plan ahead of time," he said in a talk show at the public broadcaster on Sunday, February 7.
Kabera also explained for people who might have reasonable reasons for moving past the curfew, they should apply for the movement clearance. "A service card does not replace movement clearance," he underscored.
2. Private, public transportation given a green light
In Kigali, both public and private transport will resume effective Monday. For public transport, they should not exceed 50 per cent capacity.
"Bus operators will ensure passengers maintain social distancing and only passengers with masks will be allowed on board," cabinet meeting minutes read in parts.
The green light has also been given to motorbikes and bicycles, with a call to "observe strict hygiene."
3. Inter-district movement remain prohibited
According to cabinet meeting minutes, movement between Kigali and other provinces, and between districts of the country is prohibited, apart from essential service providers and tourists.
Additionally, vehicles transporting goods will continue to function without exceeding two people on board.
4. Only essential staff to work from offices
According to cabinet resolutions, public offices will be closed, with all employees obliged to work from home, apart from those providing essential services.
For private businesses, they will resume with essential staff at no more than 30 per cent capacity, while other employees will be working from home on a rotational basis.
5. Bars remain closed, businesses close at 5 p.m
As it has been the case since the outbreak of Covid-19 in Rwanda in March last year, bars will remain closed in bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, restaurants and coffee shops in Kigali, according to new directives, will be providing take-away services only.
Going forward, businesses resuming operations must close by 5 p.m, the cabinet resolved.
6. Schools remain closed in Kigali
The decision by the last but one cabinet meeting to halt schools in Kigali in bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19 will remain valid. This applies to both private and public schools, including universities located in the city.
According to the State Minister in the Ministry of Health, Dr Tharcisse Mpunga, there is hope that once the pandemic is under control, schools in the city can reopen in coming weeks.
"We hope so, and that is what we even wish, but it will be possible if there is an evident reduction in new Covid-19 cases and an increase in Covid-19 recoveries," he said while responding to a question of whether the next cabinet meeting might give a green light to schools to resume.
Meanwhile, schools and universities outside Kigali will remain operational.
7. Covid-19 negative PCR test taken within 72 hours
Effective Monday, February 8, every passenger arriving in Rwanda will be required to present a negative Covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of boarding their flights. However, according to the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) Covid-19 test is not mandatory for accompanied children under 5 years of age.
Additionally, after taking a Covid-19 PCR test at the airport upon arrival and waiting for results for 24 hours at designated hotels, all arriving passengers must self-quarantine at their respective homes for seven days and take a free of charge PCR test at the end of this period.
However, said RBC in a statement, the quarantine is not applied to business travelers that plan to be in Rwanda for less than seven days, and international travelers visiting national parks. Nonetheless, RBC added, they are also required to "strongly minimize" coming into contact with the local community.
Previously, all passengers arriving in Rwanda show a PCR negative test taken within 120 hours before departure.
8. Places of worship to remain closed
Both in Kigali and outside Kigali, places of worship will remain closed. The same applies to physical meetings, events, and gatherings.
However, vigils and funeral gatherings are allowed but should not exceed 10 and 15 attendants respectively.
According to Anastase Shyaka, Minister of Local Government, religious people have to remain patient as the fight against Covid-19 is ongoing to ensure that in coming weeks "after doing an assessment we will give a green light, knowing that congregants will be safe while in places of worship."
9. Individual outdoor sports allowed between 5 a.m and 9 a.m
For the next approximately two weeks, gyms and recreational gatherings will be prohibited. However, individual sports will be allowed between 5 a.m and 9 a.m.
Meanwhile, all swimming pools are closed except for hotel guests who have tested negative for Covid-19.
10. Tourism activities to continue
Tourism activities will remain operational going forward, the cabinet resolved. However, in bid to observe Covid-19 preventive measures, tourists must possess negative Covid-19 test results.