Sittwe Authorities Tighten Stay-at-Home Order Restrictions

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Authorities in the Rakhine State capital of Sittwe have started checking whether people in public have the required documentation to be out of their homes this week, as they question whether locals are following a stay-at-home order meant to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

The random checks started on October 7, as coronavirus infections have yet to decrease in the city. Each family will get two “permission to be out” cards from the authorities: one to go to the market, and one to have any health issue treated.

“They have started to checking in crowded areas. They issued ‘permission to be out’ cards today. That’s why they are checking whether people are carrying their card with them when they go outside,” Zaw Zaw Tun, a member of the Arakan Humanitarian Cooperation Team (AHCT), told NMG. “I think we need to do it because we cannot control the spread of this disease. Seven people have already died. Many people are going out without reason.”

Zaw Zaw Tun pointed out that Sittwe is home to many internally displaced persons (IDPs) and workers who survive day-to-day and have to go out to earn a living or to meet their basic needs.

“In the beginning, people followed the stay-at-home order. But there are many working class people and IDPs here, so they cannot stay in their homes for so long,” he explained. “Some people have lost patience and they do not want to stay in their homes all the time. So they try to go out of their homes for a while. That’s why the authorities are trying to start their implementation plan.”

Sittwe local Tun Tin said that residents have been informed that they will be fined 10,000 kyat (nearly $8) if they go out without the permission card, but they are forced to break the order because they aren’t getting enough assistance to stay home.

“People are struggling during the stay-at-home period. Working class people are struggling for their daily survival. Some people have gotten assistance from the government but some people have not gotten assistance from the government,” he told NMG.

He was referring to 20,000 kyat (US$16) in government aid given to some people in need and 40,000 kyat ($31) given to IDPs.

“The State Counsellor urged people in Rakhine State to stay at home in her online conference. She also said that the government would provide assistance. If what she said is implemented, there will be less problems,” civil society representative Zaw Zaw Tun said.

He added that in addition to fines, those found to be violating the order could be charged with breaking the Disaster Management Law.

Local Rakhine civil society organizations reported 1,813 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,458 recoveries in the state earlier this week.