#COVID19: Gabon Gov’t Moves To Soften Strict Measures

The position change by the Gabon gov’t is based on pressure by civil society organisations and the courts.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the strict measures adopted by the Gabonese government which have been the bone of contention between the government and civil society organisations as well as the Constitutional Court would be a thing of the past.

This follows the text of a decree examined and adopted during a cabinet meeting on Monday, Jan. 3 and expected to be signed by President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

The said decree, if signed, would also abrogate certain preventive measures against the spread of the COVID-19 passed by the National Assembly in Law Number 003/2020 of May 11, 2020 and the dispositions of Decree Number 00108/PR/MS of April 10, 2020 instituting mass testing for COVID-19 in Gabon.

The dispositions of the impending decree provide for mandatory testing on arrival for all vaccinated passengers entering the country, with exemption from quarantine,  mandatory tests on arrival for all unvaccinated passengers entering the country with a mandatory quarantine period of five days in an authorised hotel establishment, the increase in the number of weekly international flights from two to five per airline company, the exemption of special authorisation to circulate and PCR tests for vaccinated persons for journeys within the country.

The draft of the decree which still contains some dispositions of the Prime Ministerial Arrete Number 0685 of Dec. 24, 2021 which was annulled by the Constitutional Court, also envisages special authorisation and PCR tests with a validity of 14 days for unvaccinated persons to travel within the country. 

It also envisages free tests for persons non-eligible for vaccination on the presentation of a certificate of non-eligibility issued by the National Committee for vaccination.

The new decree reduces the cost of VIP PCR tests for foreign passengers from 50,000 FCFA (about 100 US dollars) to 30,000 FCFA (about 60 US dollars) while the costs of the PCR test for individuals demanded by local public collectivities, any institution, administration, public or private enterprise has been reduced to 10,000 FCFA from the original 20,000 FCFA rejected by a majority of the national community.

The draft decree still however conditions access by all persons to public places, notably administrative offices, restaurants, snack bars, night clubs and any enterprises on the presentation of a valid negative test result. It also grants free access to all vaccinated persons into the above-mentioned places on the presentation of an attestation or vaccination card.

All vaccinated persons are also exempt from the curfew, the draft decree envisages.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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