Rwanda begins 14-day complete lockdown

Saturday March 28 2020

Kigali curfew

A pedestrian crosses a road in downtown Kigali, Rwanda, on March 22, 2020. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA  

IVAN R. MUGISHA
By IVAN R. MUGISHA
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Rwanda has deployed policemen and soldiers across the country to enforce a lockdown that went into effect last weekend and has warned that anyone found violating the lockdown will be arrested or fined.

The country’s airspace has also been closed to all commercial flights since March 19 for 30 days, as a measure to stop the importation of the SARs-Cov-2 virus that causes the Covid-19 disease into the country.

At the time, only one coronavirus case had been confirmed in the country. A week later, the cases had increased to 41 and the country is now under complete lockdown with 54 cases.

There are roadblocks on Kigali roads and on the highways leading to other major towns. The country’s borders have also been closed.

Scores of people in different parts of the country were arrested in the course of the week for violating the lockdown protocols.

As the rest of world was also shutting down, foreign embassies were rushing to get their citizens and diplomats on special flights out of the country, as all regular commercial flights had been halted.

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As the special flights were departing Kigali, others were landing, bringing back Rwandans stuck in Western capitals. They were all put under quarantine for an initial 14-day period. The police have been following people who refuse to abide by the countrywide lockdown and self-isolation requirements.

Arrests

Throughout this week, authorities too have had to contend with pastors secretly gathering congregations to preach and pray, individuals moving out of their homes against the regulations requiring them to stay indoors and commercial transporters who continued to ply their trade in the hope that they would evade police.

For example, two bars in Musanze District, north of Rwanda were fined Rwf50,000 ($50) and Rwf10,000 ($11) for operating during the lockdown.
Some pastors were caught preaching to congregations that had gathered secretly.

"Some bars, motorists and cyclists were found operating. Others were caught holding crusades like the case in Nyarutarama—a suburb in Kigali—where one Rubayiza Emmanuel, who was found preaching to about 50 people on the street and a similar case in Kanyinya, Nyarugenge District, also in Kigali, where eight people were found in the same room praying,” police spokesperson John Bosco Kabera said.

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