By Ange Iliza
Businesses in Rwanda have resumed normal operations Saturday after the government lifted the night curfew that has been in place for two years since the Covid-19 pandemic hit in March 2020.
The decision comes as Covid-19 cases drop and after Rwanda reached its Covid-19 vaccination target of fully vaccinating 60 percent of the population or 7.8 million out of 12.9 million population on March 4.
A Cabinet meeting on Friday night chaired by President Paul Kagame also resolved to reopen all of Rwanda’s land borders starting Monday, March 7. The borders have been closed for the last two years, with only returning citizens and cargo trucks allowed to cross.
While other activities have been allowed to operate 24 hours, nightclubs, bars, concerts, live bands, and betting activities are prohibited to exceed 2 pm.
Weddings, funerals, conferences, and meetings can be held at full venue capacity, while the 72-hour Covid-19 test requirement for attendants in public events has been reduced to 48 hours.
However, citizens and residents are obliged to get fully vaccinated — two Covid-19 doses and a booster shot for those eligible — to access public services and places.
The Cabinet meeting was also briefed on Rwanda’s joining of the International Vaccine Institute as Rwanda positions itself to receive the vaccine manufacturing plant from BioNTech this year.
Rwanda targets to fully vaccinate 9.1 million people by July this year. The Ministry of Health has installed mobile clinics in public places such as markets, malls, and bus stations to ease access to the vaccine.
Restaurants, public buses, and event managers are required to ensure that attendants are fully vaccinated and tested for Covid-19.
“The Ministry of Health may temporarily close public or private premises with identified clusters of people infected with Covid-19,” the Cabinet meeting communique stated.
The statement also urged the public to continue adhering to Covid-19 preventive measures, including properly wearing face masks, frequently washing hands, and inoculation.
Rwanda has seen a drastic drop in Covid-19 cases for the last two months, with the positivity rate dropping from five percent in December to the current 0.3 percent.
Since January 26, Rwanda has been adhering to a midnight curfew. It also allowed some major events to take place, including the recently concluded Tour du Rwanda cycling, music, and other sports in Kigali stadiums.
The current guidelines will be reviewed in one month upon health assessment.