The Government of Rwanda has broadened the ban on unvaccinated people to all public places. “All citizens and Rwandan residents are required to get fully vaccinated in order to access public spaces and events,” reads part of the statement released after yesterday’s cabinet meeting. Previously, the government had issued Covid vaccine mandates for crowded areas and other specific places like markets, places of worship, restaurants and bars among others. During the meeting, the cabinet also eased a range of Covid-related restrictions, including cutting curfew time by two hours. Rwanda met the World Health Organization’s global target for countries to vaccinate 40 per cent of their populations by the end of last year and says it is optimistic it will reach the 70 per cent target by June 2022. Nearly 7 million Rwandans have been fully vaccinated against the virus while 8.5 million people have been partially jabbed. More than 800,000 people have also received a booster dose. The cabinet again praised the role of vaccines in the fight against the pandemic, indicating in the statement that “vaccination increases protection against infection, serious illness and hospitalization caused by Covid-19.” “All citizens and Rwanda residents are urged to get fully vaccinated and, when eligible, get booster shots,” reads part of the statement. It adds, “The public is urged to get frequently tested and encouraged to work remotely, if and when possible, while continuing to observe preventive measures.” Defending vaccine mandates in parliament in December last year, Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said it was the government’s obligation to protect those who were vaccinated. He had been asked by MPs whether mandating Covid-19 vaccination in public places would not violate people’s right of independent choice. “It is your right not to get vaccinated, but it is not your right to spread the virus to people who have taken measures to protect themselves and are observing health protocols,” Ngirente, who is the head of the national Covid-19 taskforce, said. “That’s why we won’t allow people who are not vaccinated to attend large gatherings in public places,” he added. There have been media reports of some vaccine skeptics fleeing the country, but officials have said that is pointless because even the countries where they fled to have taken measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, including vaccine rollout.