The Federal government on Monday addressed concerns raised by the organized private sector with relaxation of restrictions on banking operations and worship places, even as it declares that domestic airline operators can now open from the June 21 for businesses.
Federal government explained that religious worship centers can now open, but based on regulations and guidelines to be put in place by state governments.
This is part of the guidelines released by the government for the next phase ease of lockdown expected to last for four weeks spanning June 2nd – 29, 2020.
On the reopening of schools, government said schools however remained closed for now, while preparations are on for reopening them.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Corona Virus (COVID-19), Boss Mustapha, stated this at the daily briefing on Monday.
He disclosed that “the PTF submitted its recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari which he approved for implementation over the next four weeks spanning June 2nd – 29, 2020, but subject to review.
Mustapha said. under the next phase, there will be application of science and data to guide the targeting of areas of on-going high transmission of COVID-19 in the country, as well as “mobilization of all resources at state and local government levels to create public awareness on COVID 19 and improve compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions within communities.
Sani Aliyu, the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, while giving further insights into the goal of phase 2 partial lockdown easing over the next few weeks, declared that the goal was to balance public safety with protecting livelihoods.
Government said it will continue to rely on security outfits for support for the full implementation of the next stage, and urged them to work with the public as the phase is geared towards ensuring that goods have swift passage, and enquiring that the economy starts moving again.
Federal government insists that nationwide curfew will remain in place, but the time of this will be reduced from 10pm to 4am, to limit social interactions and, therefore, reduce the risk of the transmissions of the virus.
“This would be with the exemption of those on special duties, and also those on essential travels with the movement of goods and services.
“For clarity, all restrictions on the movement of goods and services is now removed in this phase.
“There would be full reopening of the financial sectors, with banks allowed to operate at normal working hours of five days a week.
“The mass gathering of more than 20 people, outside of workplaces or places of worship remains prohibited.
Federal government also insists on controlled access to markets, and locations of economic activities, but added that “local authorities would continue to provide guidance on opening times.”
Federal government also caved in to the agitations of religious leaders in opening up of worship centres, but said this will be based on the state government protocols and guidelines on physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“For clarity, this will apply to regular church and Mosque services only.
The PTF noted that there would be mandatory supervision of persons arriving into the country for fourteen days, until new policy comes into force, even as it announced that “there would be no further evacuation of Nigerians until the new policy that is currently being developed with the private sector comes into place.”
On the specific protocols for the containment of Covid 19, PTF announced that all the measures will need to include compliance of non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as the one provision of hand-washing facilities, the mandatory wearing of masks, the maintenance of physical distancing and the avoidance of mass gatherings.
“In terms of general movements, persons may go out for work, buy necessary foods and exercise, provided they abide by curfew hours and directives.
Movement between local government areas is strongly discouraged, unless with critical reasons such as healthcare and work.
“The relaxation of some of the rules does not mean it is safer to go out, if there is no reason to go out, stay indoors, the pandemic is not over yet.
“Hawking and street trading is prohibited and we shall be looking into this in greater details with state authorities.
Under the new policy, the aviation industry is expected to start developing protocols to allow for domestic flights to resume anytime from June 21 onwards.