Conspiracy theories aside, the world now knows that the deadly Corona Virus pandemic is no hoax. From Wuhan, China to Italy and then to the United States of America and other developed economies, the Coronavirus pandemic has made its deadly mark firstly in those rich and affluent nations. But with reports coming from third world nations in Africa confirming the fact that the COVID-19 has invaded the respective motherlands, and is now wreaking havoc with the socio-economic, cultural and political foundations of African nations as never seen before, Liberians are now having a rethink, as confirmed cases continue to pile up; as the number of deaths increase, and as contacts with the Corona virus victims increase. Against this backdrop, The Analyst carefully reviews Government’s State of Emergency Proclamation issued yesterday to Liberians and foreign residents on ways and means of how government and communities can stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic in its track.
In a somberly broadcast delivery, President George M. Weah on April 8, 2020 officially declared a State of Emergency (SOE) in line with Articles 85, 86, 87, and 88 of the Liberian Constitution, and according to his own words, “after due consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, as required by law, I, George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, hereby declare a State of Emergency, to exist in and throughout the Republic of Liberia, for a period of three weeks, renewable until the threat to Liberia from the Covid-19 virus no longer exists”.
According to President Weah, the Government of Liberia continues to work with determination, diligence, and focus, to combat this deadly COVID-19 disease.
“You will recall that a Special Presidential Advisory Committee on Coronavirus (SPACOC) was established two months ago, under my leadership, as soon as it was perceived that the disease was likely to develop into a global pandemic of epic proportions that could possibly affect this country. As Chairman of SPACOC, I have personally presided over many strategy and operational meetings, with the aim and objective of coordinating the fight against the Corona disease in Liberia.
I have also instituted the Executive Committee on Corona Virus (ECOC) as the operational arm of SPACOC that will focus on community initiatives and outreach,” President Weah noted in his SOE declaration.
According to President Weah, as a first step granted him under the State of Emergency Constitutional powers granted him, the Speaker and the President Pro-Tempore are to convene the 54th Legislature in Joint Session on today, Thursday, the 9th of April, 2020 for justification and endorsement of this State of Emergency by Joint Resolution, in accordance with Article 88 of the Liberian Constitution.
“I further announce, under this State of Emergency, that all 15 counties in the Republic of Liberia are hereby quarantined from 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2020, until further notice. Movements between counties are strictly prohibited. No person shall be permitted to enter or leave or in any way cross the borders of any county into any other county, except for Montserrado County and Margibi County which are quarantined as a single unit,” President Weah stated.
The State Of Emergency (SOE) regulation, according to President Weah, mandates all Liberians and residents within the borders of Montserrado County, Margibi County, Nimba County, and Grand Kru County to stay at home for the next 14 days, beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, April 10, 2020.
“Throughout this period, residents may leave home only for essential journeys for reasons of health and food, which should be restricted to your local community only, and be limited to a single person per household for a maximum of one hour.
Exceptions shall be made for persons who are designated as essential staff in government offices, banks, supermarkets, and other business establishments such as hotels, petrol stations, and health facilities to travel directly to work and return directly home. All such commercial activities are to be closed no later than 3:00pm,” the government’s proclamation stated.
Continuing, President Weah declared that all non-essential businesses and Government offices will remain closed, with the exception of essential businesses, health facilities and a few key government offices, such as the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Central Bank of Liberia, the National Port Authority, the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Monrovia City Corporation, and the Liberia Broadcasting System, and accredited media, where only a skeleton staff will be given passes to work.
Other government offices may be designated as exempt based on the essential nature of their function. Meanwhile, non-exempt government employees and people in the private sector are encouraged to work from home, the presidential decree stated.
Also exempted from these restrictions, according to the presidential decree, are: (a) production, distribution, and marketing of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and medicine; (b) environmental and sanitation activities; ( c) members of the security forces assigned to lawful duties; (d) essential staffs of electricity, water, telecommunications, banking, and hotels, and (e) the staff of fuel stations.
“The Ministry of Internal Affairs is hereby instructed to engage the leaders of the various marketing associations in counties under this STAY AT HOME order to make satisfactory arrangements about the operation of markets during this period, so as to ensure the observance of social distance and enhanced hygiene protocols,” President Weah stated, noting that in all other counties not under this STAY AT HOME order, residents are to stay within their respective local communities until otherwise ordered.
To effect the precautionary measures put into place to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, President Weah ordered the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Chairman of the National Joint Security to enforce the stay-home policy beginning as of the effective date, noting that further measures will be imposed from time to time under the current State of Emergency.
Meanwhile, President Weah has expressed thanks and appreciation to the country’s brave health workers, including doctors and nurses and all other persons involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In this regard, I would like to call on all retired health workers in Liberia, to join hands with your counterparts to reinforce our capabilities and strengths to fight COVID-19, with your vast experience and expertise. We need all hands on deck at this time,” President Weah said, also enjoining the country’s political and religious leaders, social media groups, students, teachers, civil society and the general citizenry to join us in this fight against Corona.
“We are all in this together as Liberians, regardless of your political affiliation or religion. We must therefore come together as one people at this critical time of peril for our Nation. Let us use our time, talents, and social media platforms to educate our people on the basic hygiene and social distance practices that can keep them safe, and to encourage them to abide by the laws and regulations.
We can defeat this virus if we all commit ourselves to respecting all the measures that have been outlined. If we are undisciplined, we will be the cause for it to spread. But if we behave properly, and observe all regulations and health measures, we can also be the cure that will stop Corona in our country,” President Weah stated.