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Reactions Trail Reopening Of Worship Centres, Businesses



Religious leaders, business owners and other stakeholders yesterday showered encomiums on the federal government over its decision to lift the ban on Mosques, Churches and financial institutions in the country based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments.
The federal government further relaxed restrictions in the second phase of the gradual easing of the lockdown ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
It relaxed the nationwide dusk to dawn curfew from 8pm-6pm to 10pm-4am, just as it ordered full reopening of financial sector, including banks and other financial institutions, to their normal working hours.
Hinting on government’s plan to further relax the restrictions in phase two, Secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, had two weeks ago directed businesses, Mosques and Churches to use the last past two weeks to map out strategies on their mode of operation under the COVID-19 era ahead of full reopening of their activities.
Announcing the lifting of the ban yesterday during the daily briefing of the presidential task force on COVID-19, the SGF who is also chairman of the PTF said the federal government resolved to relax restrictions in places of worship, banks and some businesses based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.
He however noted that gathering of more than 20 persons remains prohibited outside workplaces and religious services, just as he said bars, gyms and nightclubs would remain closed.
“After considering all factors mentioned above, the PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved them for implementation over the next four weeks, spanning June 2, to June 29, subject to review,” the SGF declared.
He added that the ban on inter-state travels, except for movement of agricultural produce, petroleum products, manufactured goods and essential services, will remain.
He also revealed that the second phase of the lockdown will last for four weeks, from 2nd to 29th of June, 2020.
Mustapha said the decision to relax some of the restrictions also followed federal government’s resolve to allow science and data determine the country’s cautious advancement into the second phase of the eased lockdown for a period of four weeks.
He said, “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; 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”.
He further noted that the protocols include managing “access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmission; mandatory use of non-medical face masks in public places; mandatory provision of hand washing facilities/sanitisers in all public places; extensive temperature checks in public places and maintaining 2 metres between people in public places”.
Others are “strengthening infection prevention and control at healthcare facilities; isolation of vulnerable populations (elderly and those with underlying health conditions); massive information and education campaigns;deepening of collaborative efforts with the community leaders, civil society, faith-based organisations, traditional institutions, etc; continuous mobilisation of state governments to take up greater role in the implementation of the guidelines and advisories provided by the PTF.
“Continued provision of support by the NCDC to states through guidelines to shape decision-making in responding to high burden LGAs and Wards; easing the total lockdown of Kano State and introduction of Phase One of the Eased Lockdown”.
The SGF further explained that it was still afight for life and the advancement to phase two did not mean that COVID-19 has ended, saying it the virus was still potent and highly wasteful of human lives.
He implored all Nigerians and corporate citizens to take responsibility and play the expected role.