Haiti imposes curfew, orders mask use for pandemic emergency

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s government imposed a nightly curfew and other restrictions Monday under an eight-day “health emergency” meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

All outdoor activity will be banned from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. under the decree issued by President Jovenel Moise, who was in Ecuador on Monday for the inauguration of that country’s new president.

The decree also makes the use of face masks mandatory for anyone out in public, while temperature checks and handwashing stations are required for all public or private buildings such as banks, schools, hospitals and markets. Social distancing in public places is set at 1.5 meters (nearly 5 feet).

The president also ordered public institutions to reduce staff on duty by 50%, while he encouraged that other employees work from home.

Residents of Port-au- Prince seemed to take little regard of what was expected of them under these new rules as street markets continued to be crowded as was public transportation. Most people were not wearing masks and social distancing was not followed.

According to official government statistics, Haiti has had 13,906 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began in March 2020 and 288 deaths related to COVID-19. But a recent surge in daily cases of contagion has prompted authorities to declare the state of emergency.

Haiti has not yet begun to vaccinate its population against the coronavirus. The government recently announced its expects to begin giving the shots in June.

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