While Aden’s three largest shopping malls have been shuttered, electronics and clothing stores remain open and fish, vegetable and qat markets are crowded with hundreds of shoppers
COVID-19 update: Life in Aden continues, despite looming coronavirus threat
On Monday, two days after issuing a ban on qat, the UAE-backed Southern Transition Council (STC) reversed course to allow the mildly narcotic plant to be sold in areas under its control.
The decision came following Monday’s clashes in Lahj governorate between soldiers of the STC-aligned Security Belt Forces (SBF) and the Second Giants Brigade that left two dead and seven injured. Clashes between the two started after the SBF chased a motorcycle driver suspected of smuggling qat into an abandoned building, leading the SBF to inadvertently open fire on Second Giants Brigade forces, who were stationed at the site.
The STC directed its political branches and security services, including the SBF, in Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Al-Dhale governorates not to block qat’s entry. While not banning the sale of qat, the order continues the ban on gatherings in qat markets, without providing any guidelines on how one could continue without the other.
Despite the ban on qat being issued on Saturday, qat markets in the interim capital of Aden functioned normally on Sunday, with fresh qat from Al-Dhale being sold Sunday and Monday. Local residents in the Sheikh Othman district in Aden told Almasdar Online that the two largest qat markets in Aden operated without the intervention of security forces.
Saturday’s order also extended the nightly curfew two more hours, leaving Aden and other areas under the STC’s control confined to their homes from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. in an effort to counter the spread of COVID-19.
It’s not just business as usual in Aden’s qat market. While Aden’s three largest shopping malls have been shuttered, fish and vegetable markets are crowded with hundreds of shoppers as well. Electronics and clothing stores also remain open. Restaurants and cafes are only open for takeaway.
Delayed disbursement of public sector salaries will only weaken efforts to keep people home, a security source told Almasdar Online, as people venture out to find ways to provide food for their families.
While some mosques remain closed, others in Khormaskar, Sheikh Osman, Dar Saad and Mansoura districts remain open to worshippers. Some of these mosques have been distributing disinfectant wipes at the gates of their mosques.
Editing by Ahlam Mohsen and Casey Coombs