Ugandans defy COVID-19 SOPs as many rush for Christmas shopping

Hundreds of people in Lira City ignored the Standard Operating Procedures- SOPs as they went about on Thursday to shop for Christmas. With just hours to Christmas, several people flocking markets and shops to purchase mostly food for Christmas.  

However, most of the shoppers neither sanitized their hands nor wore face masks to contain the spread of COVID-19. Our reporter made an impromptu visit to Lira Main market, the busiest market in the city but didn’t find any hand washing and sanitizing points.

Both the vendors and their customers were neither wearing facemasks nor observing social distance. Barros Odongo, a butcher at Lira main market, said most of their customers were not observing the SOPs, adding that it was very hard to force them to since most of them walk away when asked about face masks.   

Agnes Abeja, who had gone to buy foodstuffs for Christmas, said she saw no reason of wearing a face mask when all the people around her are not. 

“I have been wearing a mask since morning and trust me; my face has turned pale already. It is God who will protect us now because even if you wear your mask, hundreds of people around you are not wearing and they are coughing and talking fwaa,” she said.   

Harriet Ocen, a vendor in Lira main market explained that lack of social distancing in the market is caused by lack of space in a place where goods on sale occupy all the space for customers. 

Alfred Okello, a famer who had brought his tomatoes for sale, said people are used to Coronavirus are no longer bothered. He, however, advised them to always wear their mask, saying God helps those who help themselves.

Similarly, Joshua Okello believes that COVID-19 is the new normal, which will not change whether one wears a mask or not.

Christine Apio, a produce dealer at Lira Produce Line, says they are adhering to the Standard Operating Procedure-SOPs for fear of exposing their lives especially those with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes.

She explained that customers who come to buy foodstuffs from her shop without masks are asked to buy one and put on before they are served or simply walk away. To her, life is more important than money.



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