people are coming out of their homes. Streets that were once all but quiet, such as Megenagna roundabout

Gradually, people are coming out of their homes. Streets that were once all but quiet, such as Megenagna roundabout (in picture), are filling with people once again. This time the streets are populated by masked pedestrians and street vendors that are trying to meet the demand for personal protective gear.

Much like the streets, restaurants and cafes have also begun to reopen and regain some of their customers, while civil servants, many of whom had been told to work from home, are being recalled by government offices. Addis Abeba has not returned to its pre-COVID-19 days, but the shadow cast by the pandemic over business activities and movements of people is slowly lifting.

The change in attitude has occurred despite the higher number of cases confirmed over the past week. On Saturday, the country confirmed 19 cases, bringing the total to 306. Five people have died due to the virus.

In response to the public's complacency, the Addis Abeba Police Commission began taking aggressive measures throughout the past week. Focusing on places with high volume of traffic, such as marketplaces and bus stops, police detained people who were not wearing face masks or heeding physical distancing measures.

"The responses have been very positive from people as we're ensuring their safety in this difficult time," said Fasika Fenta (Com.), communications head at the Addis Abeba Police Commission.

The Police Commission has, however, not won everyone's favour. Despite acknowledging the importance of the measures introduced by the government to contain the spread of the virus, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission questioned whether the response by the police or the measures were proportional to the threat posed by the individuals.

"Criminalising [non-observance of safety protocols] coupled with the history of our police force leaves room for abuse," said Daniel Bekele (PhD), head of the Commission, adding that it would be better for the government to focus on creating awareness about the virus.

You can read the full story    here    

PUBLISHED ON May 16,2020 [ VOL 21 , NO 1046]

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