Sierra Leone government has gradually begun to ease Covid-19 restrictions despite increasing number of infections in the country.
Residents can now freely move from one district to another without the need for a special pass.
The inter-district blockade had been in place since April 12, 2020 following a report of the country’s first case of the virus on March 30.
President Julius Maada Bio, who also announced the easing of a 10-hour nationwide curfew, said on Tuesday the restrictions had been imposed to “save lives”, but it was time to consider their effects on the country’s struggling economy.
“The fight against Covid-19 is a fight between livelihood and life; it has to be measured,” the President said at a special press conference held at the State House in Freetown.
“We should not kill the economy, especially in the region, by continuing to maintain the rigid or hard lockdown that we had put in place.”
President Bio revealed that the country plans to further reopen its international airport, which is currently opened for emergency services only.
As of June 23, Sierra Leone had recorded 1,347 confirmed coronavirus cases and 55 related deaths.
Review of measures
The President said the decisions were taken after consultation with experts and based on scientific data, adding that the measures will be reviewed as necessary.
He further disclosed that a regional dialogue among leaders of the four-member Mano River Union, comprising Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, was being planned to discuss a regional approach to the reopening of their international borders.