COVID-19: FG Rolls Out 5-Week Restrictive Measures, Suggests Lockdown May Follow
Recreational, sporting and religious activities that attract a large gathering of people have been banned by the federal government in Nigeria as fears of the return of COVID-19 soar.
Undoubtedly worried by the spike in the second wave of COVID-19 in the country, the federal government on Monday ordered five-week restriction on activities involving large gathering.
It also ordered the compulsory closure of schools, while all government staff on GL 12 and below are to stay at home.
The federal government also said it may further impose a fresh travel ban to and from certain parts of the world due to the mutated strain of COVID-19 manifesting in the United Kingdom and some other nations across the globe.
Speaking at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday, the chairman of PTF and secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha said, “His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has authorised the PTF to engage with the states and the FCT to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions.
“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events.
“Close all bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues; close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents; takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed.
“Restrict all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events shall be restricted to not more than 50 persons.
“Limit all gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50% capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced.
“Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only; public transportation systems are to carry passengers not more than 50% of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules.
“Enforce compliance with NPI protocols especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces; reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools.
“States are advised to implement the following: Encourage virtual meetings in government offices. The leadership of such offices are to ensure that all offices are well-ventilated offices, and encourage staff to work from home where possible.
“All government staff on GL.12 and below are to stay at home for the next five weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks.”
On schools, Mustapha said the PTF, on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education expects that schools would have vacated from December 18, 2020 and remain closed till at least January 18, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect.
He noted that all persons above the age of 60 years are encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds; while all non-essential travels – both domestic and international during the holiday season are seriously discouraged.
While offering advice to strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities over the next five weeks, the PTF said, “States are encouraged to engage community and religious leaders, arrange town hall meetings (ideally set outdoors) to address concerns; Intensify public messaging activities, leveraging on existing government and partner assets; Reach out to youths and younger adults with health promotion activities; Invest in local face mask purchase and distribution to the general public to encourage use.
“Where applicable, the PTF shall also implement these authorisations. For example, it shall work with the Nigeria Immigration Service to impose sanctions on all in-bound travellers who violated the travel protocols and endangered the lives of their loved ones and other citizens by refusing to take the post-arrival test.”
Regarding the banning of international travels, the SGF noted: “A lot of discussion is still going on around the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries.
“The PTF, Aviation and health authorities, including the WHO, are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as cogent scientific basis are established. The protection of Nigerians remains our primary concern and we reassure Nigerians of our resolve not to relent.”
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