Senegalese President Macky Sall announced on Monday the re-opening of mosques and churches and the easing of other restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus, reported Reuters. The Senegal government had closed places of worship in March and imposed a dawn-to-dusk curfew.
The ease in restrictions have been announced despite the fact that the number of new coronavirus cases has increased by 177 on Monday, the largest one day increase in cases, from a previous high of 104, with increasing community transmission in hotspots such as the holy city of Touba.
In a televised address to the nation, Sall said Senegalese would need to adapt individual and collective behavior and learn to live with the virus. He said the COVID-19 disease would continue to circulate for at least another three months even under the best-case scenario.
“In the best of cases, COVID-19 will continue to circulate in the country until the month of August, or even September,” Sall said. “In this new phase that will last not a few weeks but three or four months, we need to learn to live in the presence of the virus.”
President Sall said along with relaxing the state of emergency measures on Tuesday, curfew hours would be shortened by one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening, from 9pm to 5am, instead of 8pm to 6am. He said markets and other businesses previously restricted to operate on certain days will be now open six days and closed one day for cleaning.
Senegal has reported 1,886 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths so far. While the Senegalese government did not impose a total lockdown in the country, the borders were closed and travel between the main cities was banned.
Burkina Faso, Ghana, and several other West African nations have announced a similar easing of restrictions this month while calling on their citizens to wear masks and practice social distancing.