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COVID-19: FG orders restriction on religious gathering, closure of bars, night clubs, event centres


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AS new strain of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) emerges, President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the reactivation of restrictions on religious centres across the countries.

The religious centres, henceforth are to operate in 50 per cent capacity for the next five weeks.

Restriction, according to the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 is also extended to other public functions such as the end of the year events, conferences, weddings among others.

But all relaxation centres such as bars, night clubs, public event centres and recreational centres are to be shut.

Speaking during its regular briefing in Abuja, Boss Mustapha, the PTF Chairman said all state governments including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) are to commence enforcement of the new restriction orders.

The decision, he emphasised is to check the second wave of the pandemic in the country.

Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President had earlier raised concerns on why the federal government should take swift action due to the new strain of the virus recorded in the United Kingdom.

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Civil servants below Grade Level 12 are, however, asked to stay off work for the next five weeks while schools are to remain closed until January 18, 2021.

“The PTF has surveyed developments and actions taken by governments around the world, assessed our domestic environment and has accordingly submitted its recommendations to Mr President on immediate measures to be taken.

“Accordingly, 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,” Mustapha stated.

“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;

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“To 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 5 weeks; Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing NPI rules in their domains with frequent spot checks;

“The PTF on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Education, expects that schools would have vacated from the 18th December 2020 and remain closed till at least the 18th of January, 2021 to enable the measures introduced to take effect;

“All persons above the age of 60yrs and/or with comorbidities are to be encouraged to stay at home and avoid crowds; All non-essential travels – both domestic and international during the holiday season are seriously discouraged;

“To strengthen risk communication and community engagement activities over the next 5 weeks, 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,” he said.

According to the SGF, the PTF would be submitting its end of the year (2020) report to the President tomorrow Tuesday 22nd December by 3:00pm.

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The SGF blamed non-compliance with the COVID-19 protocol as part of the reasons for the new surge.

He also identified non-pharmaceutical interventions among events contributing factor.

He said further that besides the enforcement instruction issued to the states and the FCT by the President, the PTF would also, in necessary circumstances, play roles to ensure the measures are complied with.

“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,” Mustapha added.

Olugbenga is an Investigative Reporter with The ICIR. Email address: [email protected] Twitter handle: @OluAdanikin

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