Final year students may sit for examinations in July - PTF

• Second phase of eased lockdowbegins today, ends June 29
• Final year students may sit for examinations in July

The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had approved the relaxation of restriction placed on  churches and mosques starting from Tuesday (today).

The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this at the PTF press briefing in Abuja, said the reopening of churches and mosques would be based on guidelines issued by the task force and protocols agreed on by states.

But the Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, gave detailed explanations of the recommendations approved by the President.

In its reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria told The  PUNCH that it was awaiting the details of the reopening of worship centres.

 Mustapha said the ban on interstate movements, which the President,  in his April 27 broadcast, imposed on the nation, remained. He stated that the second phase of eased lockdown would begin on Tuesday (today) and end on June 29.

Buhari had on April 27 imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew on the nation and introduced  a total lockdown on Kano State, which recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Mustapha said the PTF on Sunday submitted a report to the President based on its review of the eased lockdown. According to him, the second phase will be guided by “data and science.”

He said the PTF recommendations were, among others, based on the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and all national economies as well as pain the lockdown brought upon the poor.

He said the PTF took into consideration the advisory of the World Health Organisation on the need to follow a slow and phased approach that is data driven.

The chairman said, under the eased lockdown,  Nigeria’s confirmed cases increased, adding that the majority of the confirmed cases were in 20 out of  the 774  local government areas in the country.

Second phase of eased lockdown begins Tuesday ends June 29

Mustapha stated, “The PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning June 2 to June 29 subject to review: cautious advance into the second phase of the national response to COVID-19.”

FG rolls out guidelines for second phase of eased lockdown

According to him, during the second phase, there will be mobilisation of resources at state and local government levels to create public awareness on COVID -19.

He also said there would be “ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace (and)  relaxation of restriction on places of worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.”

Other recommendations approved by the President, according to him, include “managed 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; mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places and provision of hand washing facilities/sanitisers in all public places.”

There will also be  extensive temperature checks in public places; maintenance of two metres  between people in public places.

Mustapha said  the President also approved easing the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of phase one of the eased lockdown in the state.

We lack infrastructure to isolate all COVID-19 patients – PTF

Mustapha also said government did not have not enough infrastructure to isolate everyone that tested positive for COVID-19.

The SGF said,  “We have been able to interrupt the level of transmission and we can now situate the level of transmission within 20 local government areas that account for the total figure of 60 per cent of 10, 107 that we have for today,” he said.

“What we need to do now is to apply a precision intervention process so that we can deal with the transmission at that level and those particular localities. Provide care for those that are infected and also put in place home management guidelines because very soon as the figure scales out, we would not be able to provide isolation for everybody that has tested positive.

“It’s not done anywhere. We lack the infrastructure, we lack the capacity to do that. It is not even advisable. What we have to do is to provide care at the home management level for those that are asymptomatic and can’t dangerously transmit the virus.”

Curfew now between 10pm and  4am

But  the national coordinator of the PTF said the nationwide curfew would be between 10pm and 4am, with effect from Tuesday (today).

Aliyu said, “From tomorrow, Tuesday, 2nd of June, 2020, the easing of the lockdown will be characterised by the following: the nationwide curfew will remain in place but the timing of this will be reduced to 10pm – 4am. Vehicles that are on essential duty, including but not limited to those involved in the provision of health care services, media services and critical infrastructure, are exempted from the curfew.

“Open interstate travel by individuals remains prohibited except for essential travels and movement of goods and services. Just to make it clear: all restriction on the free movement of goods and services is now removed in this phase.

PTF tells banks to begin full operations

“There will be full opening of the financial sector, with banks now free to operate normal working hours, five days a week.

He, however, said state governments would supervise relaxation of worship centres

“Restricted opening of places of worship will be based on state governments’ protocols and with strict guidelines on physical distancing and other non-pharmaceutical interventions. Just to clarify: this will apply to regular church and mosque services only,” he said.

Aliyu also said the mandatory supervised isolation of persons arriving from outside the country would continue to be for 14 days until a new policy comes into place.

“Just to clarify again: there will be no further evacuation of Nigerians until the new policy that is currently being developed with the private sector comes into being. So, any prior arrangement for evacuation of Nigerians from outside the country is suspended until the new policy comes into place,” he stated.

COVID-19: FG  bans street trading, hawking

The PTF national coordinator further said while markets would be opened and artisans could run their business, street hawking was prohibited.

He said, “In terms of general movements, persons may go out for work, go out to buy necessary foods and for exercise, provided they abide by the curfew hours. Movement between local government areas is strongly discouraged unless for critical reasons such as health care and work.

“I will like to emphasise that it is still safer to stay at home and avoid crowds. The pandemic is not over in this country and the relaxation of some of the rules does not mean that it is safer to go out. If you do not need to go out, please continue to stay at home.

“Hawking and street trading is also prohibited and we will be looking into this in greater detail with state authorities.”

“With interstate travels, movement across state boundaries remains restricted other than the free movement of goods and essential travels. Security services are requested to please cooperate with members of the public and ensure that goods are provided with free passage, as this particular phase is directed at ensuring the economy starts moving again.

“With intrastate travel, we will implement new travel processes for areas of the country with high-burden local government areas, and this will be restricted to essential travels.”

Schools remain closed, final year students to prepare for exams

He added, “All schools to remain closed until further evaluation. The Federal Ministry of Education is instructed to work with schools to start the process of preparing students that require exiting exams, to allow them to take exams early in the next phase of the lifting of the lockdown. But for the moment, schools are to remain closed.

“I have already mentioned places of worship. Restricted opening will apply subject to the guidelines issued by the PTF as well as the protocols agreed by respective state governments, working with religious leaders.

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