-calls on retired health workers to join hands with current workers
President George Weah has with immediate effect declared the State of Emergency based on his constitutional prerogative to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus that Liberia has recorded 14 cases and three deaths for. The state of emergency is expected to last for three weeks beginning Friday, April 10 at 11:59 p.m.
In Article 86 (a) and (b) of the Liberian Constitution, “The President may, in consultation with the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, proclaim and declare the existence of a state of emergency in the Republic or any part thereof. Acting pursuant thereto, the President may suspend or affect certain rights, freedoms and guarantees contained in this Constitution and exercise such other emergency powers as may be necessary and appropriate to take care of the emergency, subject, however to the limitations contained in this Chapter.” Additionally, “A state of emergency may be declared only where there is a threat or outbreak of war or where there is civil unrest affecting the existence, security or well-being of the Republic amounting to clear and present danger.”
In line with “Clear and present danger,” the state of emergency is declared to have people confined in their homes to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 that medical sources say can be contracted from sneezing, and coughing; something that the World Health Organization (WHO) has instituted measures of social distancing, avoidance of handshakes and touching of the eyes and nose with filthy hands, and constant handwashing for everyone to go by.
“After a consultation with the speaker of the house of representative and the pro-tempter of the senate, I George M. Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia hereby declare a state of emergency to exist throughout the republic for the period of three weeks renewable until the threat to Liberia for the COVID-19 virus no more exist,” President Weah said.
As the declaration of the state of emergency comes, many people had preempted earlier that without a proper economic plan in place to get low-income earners, extremely poor people and people with disabilities have some basic needs especially food, the state of emergency may turn fiasco as people may force their way out to seek their daily needs. Some Liberians who raised the concern prior to coming into force the state of emergency were Liberian infectious disease scientist, Dougbeh Chris Nyan, and Grand Kru County Representative Fonati Koffa.
However, despite this concern amid economic hardship, there was no measure put in place as to how citizens, many of who rely on street selling and casual labour will get money to sustain their families within the 14 days being declared for people to keep indoors. Some civil servants in the wake of the declaration have complained that they have outstanding arrears with the government.
Since Liberia started recording cases of the virus in March and stringent measures put in place by the Ministry of Health and the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), marketplaces have always been filled with people and some churches have remained intransigent to the mandate by the health authorities.
President Weah in his declaration on April 8, 2020, called on all retired health workers in Liberia to join hands with their counterparts to reinforce the nation’s capability and strength to fight the COVID-19.
The President said the declaration is the first step that has been taken while the speaker and the Pro Tempore are expected to convene a joint session on today, April 9, 2020, for the justification and endorsement of the state of emergency in a joint resolution in accordance with article 88 of the Liberian constitution.
President Weah said movement between counties are prohibited adding that expect Montserrado and Margibi counties which have been quarantined as a unit.
“I also announced that under this state of emergency, all 15 sub-political divisions of Liberia are quarantine from 11:59 PM beginning Friday, April 10, until further notice.”
He said as an additional measure under the state of emergency, residents within the borders of Montserrado and Margibi, Nimba and Grand Kru counties are to stay at home for the next fourteen days beginning at 11:59 PM Friday.
President Weah said other counties that are not under the stay-home order should remain in their local communities until further notice.
During the quarantine period, residents may leave their homes only for reasons of health and food which should be restricted to a local community only and limited to a single person per household for an hour.
The President, however, there would be an exception for a person who is an essential staff of government office, bank, supermarkets and other business establishments like hotels, portal station(gas station), health fertilities who will travel directly to work and home.
“All commercial activities are to be closed by 3 p.m. daily. All non-essential businesses and government offices will remain closed,” he said.
President Weah named the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Center Bank of Liberia, National Port Authority, Liberia Revenue Authority, Monrovia City Cooperation, Liberia Broadcasting System and other independent Media as institutions to operate with skeleton staffs, who will be given passes to allow them to go to work.
He said those that are not part of the restriction are the production, distribution and marketing of food, beverages, pharmacy, sanitation services, the security forces, electricity, water, telecommunication and banks.
President Weah ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs to engage the leaders of various marketing associations in counties under the stay-home orders to make satisfactory arrangements during the period to ensure the existent of social distancing and enhance hygiene protocols.
According to the President, the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the head of the Joint securities are to enforce the stay-home order beginning Friday.
President Weah urged both Liberians and other nationals residing in the country to follow the measures put in place by the government.
He said during these difficult times, the only important reason why Liberians should abide by the measures is to save lives, calling on citizens to learn from the experience of EBOLA.
President Weah called on all political, religious leaders, social media groups, students, teachers, Civil Society and the entire citizens to joint against the fight of COVID-19.