KAMPALA– The Police in Kampala Metropolitan have arrested over 1,100 suspects from bars while drinking alcohol, in an operation conducted on Saturday night.
Suspects arrested were found drinking alcohol during curfew hours in various bars in areas of Kampala central, Wakiso and surrounding areas.
Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy spokesperson of Kampala Metropolitan Police in a press statement said that the aim of the operation was to enforce COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
“The aim was to raid bars that have been working in total disregard of the Ministry of Health guidelines”. The statement reads in part.
Without mentioning the name of some of those bars, Owoyesigyire said that the suspects were arrested from different bars around Kampala Metropolitan Area.
In the same operation, over fifty 50 motor vehicles which were found moving during curfew hours were impounded by police.
Bars in Uganda were closed together with other public places last year as one way of stopping the spread of COVID-19. However, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni lifted a ban on other businesses and allowed only 200 people to be part of any gathering to ensure social distancing.
President Museveni said he could not open bars because when people get drunk, it becomes hard for them to ensure social distance.
Most bars have been operating behind bars especially in urban settings. However, there are famous bars that are operating openly and security people fear closing them. Sources say that most of these bars are owned by security personnel who always give their businesses protection.
James Akampurira a resident of Kisenyi 2 Kamwokya parish in Kampala central said that, police have arrested him two times during curfew hours and he witnessed how police treat people they get in bars and those found rushing to their homes.
“All the times I have been arrested by the police and Local Defence Unit soldiers, I have witnessed that people they find in bars are treated like innocent people yet us who were found heading to home, we are treated like criminals.” Says Akampurira.
He said that sometimes, when police find a bar operating, the leader of the group enters the bar and negotiates. “At times, you see the commander in talks with the bar owner and shortly, he comes back without arresting anyone found in the bar” he adds.
Since the pronouncement of the second wave of COVID-19, the country has been registering a big number of COVID-19 positive cases daily, a trend that has worried health experts that the health system will be overwhelmed if tough measures are not put in place.
President Museveni is set to address the nation about the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country on Saturday 6th, and to communicate the resolutions from and measures passed by the National Task Force on COVID-19.
Owoyesigyire further cautioned saying that bars are not yet opened and police will not hesitate to arrest any suspects found violating stipulated guidelines.
According to Owoyesigyire, all suspects arrested will be produced in courts of law on offenses of doing a negligent act likely to spread an infectious disease, and he further urged members of the public to observe SOPs to avoid contract spread COVID-19.