The Federal government on Monday addressed concerns raised by the organized private sector with the relaxation of restrictions on banking operations and worship places, even as it declares that domestic airline operators can now open from June 21 for businesses. The 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, the 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.
The federal government insists that nationwide curfew will remain in place, but the time of this will be reduced from 10 pm to 4 am, 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 a 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.
The 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.” The federal government also caved into the agitations of religious leaders in opening up of worship centers 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 detail 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.