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City Arcades, Malls Abandon SOPs as Festive Season Approaches :: Uganda Radionetwork
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City Arcades, Malls Abandon SOPs as Festive Season Approaches

According to Brian Batambuze, an Enforcer for Observation of COVID-19 SOPS at Park Enkadde Mall, events like bomb blasts, have shifted people's attention from the pandemic to security. He noted that individuals that access the mall note that COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
Business in Kampala down town ongoing without wash tanks at arcade entrances and social distance

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Despite the spread of the omicron COVID-19 variants in other parts of the world is expected to trigger, it is business as usual in Kampala central business district.  

There is lax enforcement of the Standards Operating Procedures-SOPs instituted by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19. While lifting the 42-day lockdown in June this year, President Yoweri Yoweri Museveni allowed city arcades to resume operations under strict observance of SOPs. 

He tasked the proprietors of the arcades and shopping centers to set up separate entry and exit routes, install CCTV cameras, provide handwashing facilities at all entrances and procure temperature guns to measure the temperature of all people accessing their buildings.

He also directed them to set up a committee to enforce hand washing and wearing face masks. He also directed the arcade owners to provide isolation rooms for holding suspected COVID-19 cases before they are taken to the hospital and stop vendors from operating on verandas, in corridors, and in temporary buildings fixed in compounds of some arcades among other conditions. 

Unlike last Christmas and new year, when such centres were cautious because of police enforcement through several arrests of those flouting the SOPS, a visit to the centres by our reporter shows total laxity in the enforcement of the SOPs. Some of the areas URN visited include Grand Corner House, Majestic Plaza, Shopping arcade, Park Enkadde Mall, Mukwano Arcade, Mutaasa Kafeero arcade, and Modern Complex among others. 

At the entrance, most of the arcades had empty hand washing tanks. Some of those that had tanks with water such as Grand Corner, individuals would walk in without being stopped to wash their hands.  While buyers crowded around the different selling points checking out prices of goods, the majority of them didn’t have face masks just like the sellers.

None of those arcades through observation had a temperature gun to measure the temperature of those accessing the buildings. According to Brian Batambuze, an Enforcer for Observation of COVID-19 SOPS at Park Enkadde Mall, events like bomb blasts, have shifted people's attention from the pandemic to security. He noted that individuals that access the mall note that COVID-19 is no longer a threat. 

//Cue in: “I have like… 

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Sharon Ndagire, a buyer at Mukwano arcade also explained that for the last festive season authorities were strict on the matter unlike this time around, which makes people more reluctant to comply with the directives.  

//Cue in: “Before kyaali strict…   

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On the other hand, some of the traders feel that since they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 they are in no danger of catching it. Emmanuel Kabugo, a street vendor close by the Old Taxi Park explains that since a number of traders have received the vaccination, the spread of the virus is controlled.

//Cue in: Abantu abasinga twegemye… 

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Suleiman Mpagi, the Coordinator for Kampala Arcade Advocacy Forum reveals that while putting SOPS in place is costly for traders, sensitization is still ongoing to keep reminding people of the risk, especially during the festive season. 

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Dr. Julius Otim, Director of Health at Kampala Capital City Authority told URN that they had arranged a run to remind people about SOPs during Christmas and the New Year celebrations. 

//Cue in: “First of all… 

  

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Thaddeus Musoke, the Chairperson of Kampala City Traders Association-KACITA noted that as leaders they will keep on doing rotational sensitization sessions for their SOPS implementers to see that the basic practices are not abandoned. 

“For us, we are constantly reminding our traders to ensure that they follow the Standards of Operation so that we remain in business,” he said. Some cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were detected in the country early this month from samples of travelers that were tested at Entebbe International Airport. 

This was confirmed by the genomic surveillance being carried out at the various points of entry and among the general population.

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