Abuja, Nigeria- Amidst the rising new cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in some parts of the country, the Federal Government has imposed new restrictions in the FCT and all states across the federation.
Speaking at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 National Briefing, the Chairman of the Task Force, Mr. Boss Mustapha, announced that the directives were advisories issued to state authorities for implementation in the next five weeks.
The new restrictions are the immediate closure of all bars, nightclubs, pubs and event centres, as well as recreational venues in all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Furthermore, all restaurants were also directed to close, except those providing services to hotel residents, takeaways, home deliveries, and drive-ins.
Similarly, all informal and formal festivity events, including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events, have been restricted to not more than 50 people.
The government also limited all gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50 per cent of the capacity of the facility of use which physical distancing and use of face masks should be strictly enforced.
Mustapha explained that two major indicators highlight the current increase in cases and transmission across Nigeria.
“Notwithstanding the fact that our testing numbers are fast approaching the peak recorded in July 2020, the number of cases being reported are disproportionately higher”., Mustapha said.
He also complained of the lack of compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions particularly the disregard for mask use in public, large gatherings as a result of events linked to the yuletide season and recent civil demonstrations.
Lagos, Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory have emerged as the new epicenters with over 70 percent of all confirmed cases.
Mustapha noted that the protection of Nigerians remain the primary concern of the task force while reassuring Nigerians that the task force wont relent in its resolve to beat the pandemic.
The Presidential Task Force will submit it’s end of the year (2020) Report to Mr President and Nigerians shall be kept abreast of developments in this regard.
What the new restrictions say
In the statement released by the Presidential Task Force in the face of the rise in new cases, it says gatherings where more than 50 persons are attending, event 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,
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 five 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.
Where applicable, the PTF shall also implement these authorizations.
The PTF, Aviation and health authorities including the WHO, are assessing the situation closely and would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis are established.