Sierra Leone Telegraph: 02 September 2021:
Owners of bars, restaurants, clubs and hotels in Freetown, met with Ministry of Tourism and the National Corona Virus Emergency Response Centre (NaCOVERC) officials in Aberdeen, Freetown, where they discussed the impact of the pandemic on the tourism sector and leisure businesses.
They also spoke about the way forward regarding the implementation of COVID-19 enhanced prevention measures by businesses.
It is estimated that Sierra Leone’s tourism and leisure sector is losing millions of dollars every year since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, as well as putting thousands of people out of work across the country.
Spokesperson for NaCOVERC, Solomon Jamiru said that the Pandemic is now taking a different turn, making life more difficult for most people. He said that as the fight against the virus continues, the key decision to scale down restrictions must be informed by the epidemiological data.
He told leisure business owners that as the third wave of the virus continues to strike, the priority of the government is to protect the lives of its citizens and that restrictions on entertainment and the hospitality sector will continue to be in force.
But he called on the sector leaders to bring forward proposals to NaCOVERC and other stakeholders outlining workable options for the safe resumption of activities in the sector, as he assured them that the government is ready to listen and take action to open up the sector.
He said that government itself wants to see resumption of normal business operations but will not compromise public health.
The only ultimate protection against the virus he said is vaccination. To this end, he encouraged vaccination of everyone in the sector.
Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt noted that COVID-19 has ravaged the hospitality sector but informed the sector leaders that they are determined to minimize impact by taking the necessary precautions.
She encouraged and appealed to all in the sector to take the vaccine and raise awareness about the importance of vaccination.
Sector leaders pleaded with the Tourism Ministry and NaCOVERC to increase sensitization on the importance of vaccination and dispel negative myths and propaganda which they said are hindering uptake.