The public has disregarded safety measures after the lockdown was lifted this morning.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, in anticipation of todays lifting of the 60-hour lockdown, called on the public yesterday during his nationwide address to practice safety measures in public places and transportation.

“It is important that everyone limits their movement into the city or to crowded areas. Remember when you move, the virus moves,” Sogavare said.

Other safety measures emphasized by the Prime Minister include the wearing of masks and social distancing of 2 meters.

He also called on public transport owners to limit the number of passengers to 3 people per taxi and only 2 people per row in public buses.

But todays lifting of restrictions saw an influx of people going into town, and while some wore facemask other safety measures were not practiced or observed. Public buses were packed as they shuttled passengers to and from town to the various suburbs in Honiara.

While some shops and outlets did observe safety measures, long ques formed outside of pharmacies, shops and especially western union agents, with no social distancing or provision of hand sanitizers.

“I came down and decided to return home, it is not worth it, trying to get into the pharmacy, just too risky,” said Irene.

“I thought the risk was obvious for the public, but many seem to be underestimating the threat of the virus.”

Many shared photos on social media, questioning the rationale behind the lifting of the lockdown, especially with speed at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading in our community.

Some say today’s experience is good enough reason to keep the lockdown, but look at ways to ensure households are stocked with supplies.

Hard lockdowns have been practiced in other countries which helped flatten and reduce infection rates, lockdowns were lifted gradually only when fully vaccinated numbers rose.

With only 20% of our eligible population vaccinated, it is perhaps too early to lift restrictions, especially when there is already widespread community transmission.