Street barriers intended to control coronavirus attract widespread criticism on social media

18 September 2020
Street barriers intended to control coronavirus attract widespread criticism on social media
Myanmar men wait behind fence blocking access to the street with the sign reading 'Stay-at-Home, No outsiders are allowed', Yangon, Myanmar, 12 September 2020. Photo: Lynn Bo Bo/EPA

Since 10 September, residential quarters’ administrators in townships set up makeshift barriers in their streets, and only cars of residents were allowed to enter the streets, but these arrangements have since attracted intense criticisms on social media.

The Ministry of Health and Sports announced a “Stay at Home” order for several townships in Yangon Region since early September as an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19.

The barriers, made of bamboos or metal pipes, had been guarded by volunteers comprising young people from their relevant residential quarters.

According to 7 Day News agency, South Okkalapa Township administrator U Nyein Chan Aung said that the order was issued by Yangon Region Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein.

U Thaung Nyunt, a street-elder of 138th Street in Tarmway Township, told Mizzima that they did not allow people from other residential quarters without reason. They also enforced people to wear masks, he said.

He said that he also urged all other quarters to do the same thing.

“Now, the infection rate has increased sharply. The first wave of COVID-19 is not as strong as this wave. At that time at most 15 cases were reported per day. Now, more than 100 cases are reported per day,” he said.

Any person who failed to wear a mask was fined Kyat 3,000, and the money used for the benefit of the streets, according to U Thaung Nyunt. Those who could not afford to pay the fine faced sit-ups punishment.

The move was widely criticized on social media because it posed difficulty for those who needed to enter into the streets for various reasons.

Some pointed out the difference between “Stay at Home” order and “lockdown” order. They said that “Stay at Home” order did not need street-barriers.

Setting up street barriers was just a misunderstanding of the “Stay at Home” order, they said.

Some people joked on social media writing that several townships in Yangon now have “autonomy”.

At the time of this writing, some streets had removed the barriers, while some still remaine