COVID-19: FG Relaxes Shut Down in Lagos, FCT and Ogun, Issues More Guidelines

The Federal Government has relaxed total lockdown it imposed on the Federal Capital Territory, Lagos and Ogun states to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The government, in the new guidelines it issued on Wednesday,  stated that markets selling food would open from 10am to 2pm every other day.

Also, supermarkets and pharmacies are to open from 10am to 4pm every day, but must maintain a high level of hygiene.

The new guidelines also ban bus services during the lockdown. It adds that a mass gathering of more than 20 people is not allowed.

The Federal Government reviewed the lockdown on Wednesday just as COVID-19 cases rose to 174 with 35 new cases.

Following the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country, President Muhammadu  Buhari, on Sunday ordered the lockdown of the FCT, Lagos and Ogun states.

He ordered residents of the FCT and the two states to stay at home during the 14-day lockdown, which began in Lagos and Abuja at 11pm on Monday.

The President, however, exempted health personnel, journalists, workers of telecommunication and power companies from the stay-at-home order.

In the new  guidelines released to journalists by the National Coordinator for the fight against COVID-19, Dr  Sani Aliyu, during a press conference organised by  the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, supermarkets, food stores, pharmacies and markets are exempted from the lockdown, but must  operate under strict rules

He said all residents of the two states and the FCT would be confined to their homes, except for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining essential goods or service or seeking medical care.

The coordinator also said, “Borders linking the two states and the FCT to the rest of the country will be shut during the period of the lockdown, except for the transport of persons on essential duties, transport of food, fuel, manufactured goods or donated relief items. Security agencies are please invited to note these.”

According to him, gatherings are prohibited, except for funeral services as guided by infection control and prevention regulations, for which social distancing rules still apply and crowds are limited to not more than 20 persons.

He also said, “Movement between and within the two affected states and the FCT is restricted, except for workers involved in the delivery of essential services, duties, foods and goods.

“Retail shops and malls must be closed except where essential goods are being sold. Shops and malls that are opened for this reason must enforce social distancing and hygienic measures in line with issued guidelines.

“Any business or organisation providing essential goods and services must identify the workers who will perform these activities.

Commuters services between cities and states, including passenger services, bus services, e-hailing services, maritime and air passenger transport are suspended for the period of the lockdown in the affected states and the FCT.”

He, however, noted that limited transport services would be allowed for the movement of workers, services and goods in response to COVID-19 and for the purpose of seeking medical attention or provision of essential services.

Such transport services, Aliyu said, must implement social distancing and hygienic measures.

He stated, “With regard to the carriage of passengers, we must ensure spacing in between passengers, clean and disinfect frequently touched parts, including door and window handles, steering wheels and dashboards and encourage passengers to perform hand hygiene frequently.”

According to him, all owners of supermarkets must not allow anybody with high temperature to enter their premises, adding that customers and staff must wash their hands.

He added, “All deliveries of supplies and products for these supermarkets and food stores must be made between the hours of  5am and 9am.

“Porters should wash their hands before offloading products and goods. Store opening hours shall be between 10am and 4pm daily for customers. At any point in time, the total number of customers inside each store must not on average exceed a third of the store’s maximum capacity.”

The national coordinator added, “For pharmacies, the rules as per supermarkets apply, except that for pharmacies that run 24-hour schedules, they will be allowed to operate as usual.

“In order for markets to operate, state and local government authorities, as well as leaders of market associations, must take full responsibility for strict compliance with the following protocols:

“Only shops and stores selling food and groceries shall be allowed to open to customers between the hours of 10am and 2pm, every other day or less frequently.”

Buhari has approved the release of 70,000 metric tons of grains for the poor and vulnerable amid the restrictions to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force, Boss Mustapha, stated this at the press conference addressed by the task force.

He said Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, would receive the first tranche of the grains.

He stated, “The first tranche of about 6,000 metric tonnes will go to Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, while the remaining will go to other frontline states in the fight against COVID-19.”

According to the SGF, the new guidelines will be widely circulated to all the security agencies and will be discussed with the sub-national entities for the purposes of building synergy in the fight against the virus.

He added that the guidelines and policies would also be published in the national dailies and broadcast on the news network for more awareness.

The Presidential Task Force also announced that it had yet to receive any financial contributions for its work.

The National Coordinator of the PTF,  Aliyu, explained that the items received from Chinese billionaire, Jack Ma, had been distributed.

Prominent Nigerians, including the African richest man, Aliko Dangote, have pledged donations to fight the virus.

At the press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr  Osagie Ehanire, refused to disclose the location of the President’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, who tested positive for coronavirus.

Kyari had disclosed in a statement on Sunday that indeed he had been infected by the disease and that he would be seeking treatment in Lagos State but would not be using tax payers’ funds to treat himself.

However, the Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, Prof. Akin Abayomi, had said on Tuesday that he did not know Kyari’s location thereby sparking reports that the President’s aide was not in any isolation centre.

Responding to a question during the Presidential task force briefing, the health minister said Kyari’s location was not important, adding that the President’s chief of staff had a right to privacy.

Ehanire also said over 2,000 people had so far been tested for the disease. He added that seven laboratories in the country could test for COVID-19.

Source: Punch

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