The government has suspended all New Year night celebrations, including display of fireworks, prayers and converging in trading centres.
The Information minister, Ms Judith Nabakooba, said police have been directed not to grant any company permission to display fireworks, saying it would lead to gatherings of people and escalate the spread of coronavirus.
“Police will not give any permission for fireworks this time. Fireworks are usually accompanied by people staying up late and gathering around a particular place. This gathering and fanfair increases the risk of spreading Covid-19. All other public end of year festivities such as concerts, overnight prayers, discotheques are not allowed,” Ms Nabakooba said yesterday.
Ugandans have been used to welcoming the New Year by gathering in trading centres and lighting fire or displaying fireworks. Some Christians spend the night in prayers.
Since March, the government imposed a 9pm to 6am curfew to control the spread of coronavirus. At least 245 people have died from Covid-19 in Uganda.
“Please stay in your homes and welcome the New Year with your family,” Ms Nabakooba added.
On Christmas and Boxing Day, Kampala Metropolitan police carried out a crackdown on bars that were operating contrary to Ministry of Health restrictions. At least 329 people were arrested.
The deputy spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan Police, Mr Luke Owoyesigyire, said 147 people are detained at Katwe Police Station.
“These were found in various bars such as Happy Boyz at Namasuba, New Best Hotel at Nateete and many other areas. The suspects were operating against the Ministry of Health guidelines and violating the curfew as well,” Mr Owoyesigyire said.
He said they will all appear in court today.
“We warn bar owners that operations to enforce guidelines against the spread of Coronavirus are on and those found operating bars will be dealt with in accordance with the law,” he said.