Churches, mosques to reopen as schools remain shut

Written by on June 2, 2020

The Federal Government yesterday ordered “restrictive opening” of worship centres but with a caveat that relevant containment protocols against COVID-19 be respected, in line with the agreement reached between the Presidential Task Force, PTF on COVID-19 and state governments.

The PTF, which disclosed this during its daily briefing also announced the second phase of its eased lockdown which would be in place for four weeks, with the 8pm to 6am curfew imposed on the country reviewed to between 10pm and 4am.

The initial six-week eased lockdown ended by midnight yesterday, but the Presidential Task Force PTF on COVID-19 said the pandemic was still very potent as Nigeria has not reached the peak of infection.

The new phase of the lockdown also places a ban on interstate movement, gatherings with more than 20 people, among others.

While it said states can relax the restrictions placed on religious houses, the PTF, however, reviewed the 8pm to 6pm curfew imposed on the country to between 10pm and 4am.

It said since the transmission had got to community level, it was expected that states and local governments would now drive the process in their areas of responsibility.

The PTF also announced the full opening of banks and the financial services sector but stated that schools remained closed until medical experts gave the nod for reopening, adding that the aviation industry was taking steps to see how domestic flights could commence on June 21.

Phase two of lockdown

Chairman of the PTF and Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, in his remarks, noted: “Nigeria has not reached the peak of confirmed cases.

We are still in the first wave. We haven’t even reached the peak of the first wave. ‘’The basic question that most Nigerians will ask now is, are we going to see an increase? Yes, we are going to see an increase but we are putting infrastructure in place that will now tell us exactly what is happening.

We are ramping up the tests.’’ He said the battle against COVID-19 was a long term one and that Nigeria had to pursue a strategy that would aid the sustainable control of the spread of the disease.

He said: “Risk communications and community engagement should remain top priority; and precision approach to containment and management should be adopted.

“Based on the overall assessment, including available data on the public health considerations and resultant economic impacts, the PTF is of the opinion that Nigeria is ready to allow science and data determine her cautious advancement into the second phase of the eased lockdown for a period of four weeks.

“After considering all factors mentioned above, the PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning 2nd – 29th June, 2020, subject to review.

Cautious advance into the Second Phase of the national response to COVID-19; application of science and data to guide the targeting of areas of on-going high transmission of COVID-19 in the country; Mobilisation 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.

“Sustenance of key non-pharmaceutical interventions that would apply nationwide and include ban of gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace; relaxation of restriction on places of Worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.

“Manage access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission; ban on inter-state travels except for movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services.’’

Mustapha said the above were in addition to all other measures, including the mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places, social distancing and others. The PTF, however, announced the easing of the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of Phase one of the ease lockdown.

The Task Force expressed worries that the global epicenter of the pandemic has shifted from China to Europe, then to the United States of America and now showing significant impact in South and Central America.

“This shift to South America with virtually similar climatic and demographic similarities with Africa, is a cause for concern when we consider the fact that earlier projections pointed to Africa as likely to be the worst hit continent, by the pandemic,” Mustapha stated.

He said no country had been able to survive the virus just by embarking on a lockdown, saying the people have to own the fight and protect themselves by adhering to safety protocols.

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