Senegal government on Thursday announced it has decided to roll back some lockdown restrictions in the country after two nights of violent protests and more than 200 arrests, reported Reuters.
The protesters set tyres on fire and threw stones in Dakar in demonstrations against the restrictions imposed almost three months ago to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The police had to use tear gas to disperse protesters from the roads.
Senegal Interior Minister Aly Ngouille Ndiaye said the start of the dusk to dawn curfew would be pushed back by two hours, to 11:00 pm and that restrictions on travel between Senegal’s regions would be lifted.
“From today, transport restrictions across the country are being lifted, with the curfew being maintained from 11pm to 5am,” he said on state television. “Gatherings in public or private places, restaurants, gyms, casinos will also benefit from these relaxation measures.”
While the Senegal government has not faced major opposition to its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s economy has been hard hit by measures like the overnight curfew and a ban on inter-regional travel.
Senegal has reported almost 4,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 45 deaths. Dakar and Touba, which is both a trading hub and major pilgrimage destination, have been hit the hardest. Senegal is prone to the pandemic due to the country’s weak healthcare system. Notably, about 40 percent of the population lives below the threshold of poverty.
On Tuesday, the government also took a decision to delay the reopening of schools in the country at the eleventh hour after 10 teachers in the southern region of Casamance tested positive for COVID-19. The authorities have already extended the ban on all passenger flights to and from the country until June 30.
A decision is expected in the coming days on whether more measures should be lifted, including the nighttime curfew.