The National Coordinator, Presidential Tasks Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu, has announced a little window for funerals and weddings amid the pandemic, saying attendance has been reduced to 20 people including family members.
“For funerals and weddings no particular change, funerals and weddings to be limited to 20 people including close family members. In summary, the PTF has recommended to Mr. President and Mr. President has approved the extension of phase two of the response with minor modifications.
“We are requesting for full compliance by the general public. We have to get this right and this time around, we really need to stop playing Russian roulette with our life because if we continue to expose ourselves to COVID-19 there is no doubt that people will die,’’ he said at the PTF briefing in Abuja on Monday.
Aliyu called on political leaders, community and religious leaders to continue to support the government to make ensure that the communities are aware of the risks and that compliance is improved.
According to him, the aim of Phase Two was to sustain the gains from earlier steps and that response was partly relaxed to enable additional sectors of the economy restart activities.
He announced that the current nationwide curfew would remain while restrictions would be enforced for mass gatherings and sports.
“The curfew, for instance, remains from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. nationwide. People are allowed to go out for work and to buy food and exercise as well as continue to move between local governments, especially in areas that are not high burden local governments, but we still strongly recommend avoiding unnecessary contact with people.’’
On the number of workers allowed to report for duty across the country, Aliyu said: “Federal and state government offices will maintain their current timing with only essential staff allowed at the same level of grade level 14 and above resume work.
“The use of face masks remains mandatory and we will be enforcing this at all levels including linking up with state governments.
“Access to government and commercial premises will not be allowed if you are not wearing a face mask; in other words, `no mask, no entry, no mask, no services’’.
“In particular, we expect the transport industry to adhere to the Federal Ministry of Transportation safety protocol and guidelines that will be released, specifically in relation to parks and terminals that will be restricted access with disinfection and sanitization.
“Waiting area for passengers must have social distance in measures, there has to be posters and notices on conduct of persons, temperature checks, if you are not wearing a mask, you will not be allowed entry into the parks and terminals.
“We also expect transporters to arrange for crowd control, buses should have a maximum of 50 percent capacity each bus trip.We strongly urge windows to be kept open particularly for short trips and face mask is mandatory.
“State governments through their commissioners of transport shall undertake inspection of facilities and confirm compliance as a precondition to resumption of interstate travel and non-compliance with the guidelines would result in withdrawal of permission to operate Interstate mass transit. The PTF expects this to be enforced at the state level.
“For Interstate travel, we will maintain the occupancy level for buses to 50 percent and two passengers for taxes, but we will restrict movement in high burden-local government areas to essential travel only. This will be part of the hotspot strategy that will be introduced,’’ the PTF coordinator said.
Aliyu restated that hotels, restaurants and eateries should observe all mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions, restaurants to remain closed for eating with strict cleanliness guidelines except for restaurants that are servinghHotel residents.
“Bars, gyms, cinemas, event centers and nightclubs remain closed and this will be enforced. For churches and mosques, no specific change, phase 2 remains.
“Arrangements are to be made for students taking part in the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), Business and English Certification (BEC) exams, West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examinations, National Examinations Council (NECO) and sub-exams respectively.
“All schools must comply with the six recommended steps and required measures to be issued by the Federal Ministry of Education before an institution is reopened in the timeline to be provided.”
Mr Boss Mustapha, the PTF Chairman and Secretary to Government of the Federation, said government was worried that prior to COVID-19 15 million children were out of school.
“So what do we do with those that are in school, do they constitute part of this now or do we do something. We measured the risk and see how best we can help the graduating ones. We are not talking about everybody going back to school, we are talking about the graduating classes. Primary six, for instance, if we don’t do something about them, they cannot proceed to secondary school.
“The same thing with JSS3; they can only qualify to move if they pass a certain examination. So, if you stop them it means we would not have the prospect of people graduating. The same with SS3, there is a certain examination that qualifies you to go into the university, that is WAEC, in addition to JAMB or whatever qualifying examination that you have.
“WAEC is not under our exclusive control. The five Anglophone West African countries constitute WAEC. If other four are ready and we start the examination say in the month of August, Nigeria cannot isolate itself. It means that those that are to graduate to the universities next year would not be able to graduate,’’ Mustapha explained.