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January 23, 2021

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Nigeria announces new restrictions, asks states to close bars, restaurant, others

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Following the confirmation of a second wave of the coronavirus in Nigeria, the federal government has advised states to immediately close all bars, nightclubs, and restaurants across the country.

The number of guests at weddings, conferences, among others have also been limited to 50 persons.

The chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, while speaking at its briefing on Monday, said the new guidelines are part of measures to limit the spread of the virus.

He said President Muhammadu Buhari has authorised the PTF “to engage with the states and the FCT to assume full ownership of this stage of the response by deploying legal structures and resources, including enforcement to manage the pandemic within their jurisdictions”.

“In line with the authorisation, the PTF wishes to issue the following advisories to sub-national entities for implementation over the next five weeks because these activities are considered super spreader events:

“Close All bars, night clubs, pubs and event centres, and recreational venues;

“Close all restaurants except those providing services to hotel residents; takeaways, home deliveries and drive-ins shall remain closed,” he said.

Even before the federal government’s advisory, many states like Lagos and Kaduna already introduced new rounds of restrictions to check the spread of the virus.

Spike

Following an unprecedented spike in new COVID-19 cases across the country, the Nigerian government had announced that the country has entered the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nigeria last week recorded more new COVID-19 cases than at any other week since the first case of the virus was registered in the country in February.

Also, about four days ago, the country registered its latest highest daily figure of 1,145, a record likely to be broken soon going by the way the virus is spreading.

Until the resurgence of the infections in December, Nigeria never had a higher number of daily infections than the 745 reported on June 19.

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The recent increase in new cases is, however, not peculiar to Nigeria.

Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in COVID-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year.

England, Portugal and Hungary are among nations under a second lockdown as the new wave of infections sweeps through, shattering efforts to keep the contagion at bay

New restrictions in Nigeria

The federal government asked states to ensure the closure of all bars, nightclubs and restaurants across the country for an initial period of five weeks.

This, however, excludes restaurants providing services to hotel residents.

Mr Mustapha also said “all informal and formal festivity events including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events should be restricted to not more than 50 persons.”

He said religious events should be limited to less than 50 per cent capacity of the facility of use during which physical distancing; mandatory use of face masks shall be strictly enforced.

“Where more than 50 persons are attending, any such events, the gathering should be held outdoors only,” he said.

Public transportation systems are also expected to convey not more than 50 per cent of their capacity in compliance with social distancing rules.

He urged the public to comply with all Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (NPI) protocols especially the advisory on wearing of face masks in public spaces.

Mr Mustapha advised persons above the age of 60 years and/or with comorbidities to stay at home and avoid crowds.

Office space, schools

Mr Mustapha explained that to reduce overcrowding in public spaces, markets, shopping centres, offices and schools states are advised to encourage virtual meetings amongst other measures.

He said all government staff on levels 12 and below are to stay home for the next four weeks.

He said Permanent Secretaries and Chief Executives are to be held accountable for enforcing Non Pharmaceutical interventions rules in their domains with frequent spot checks.

“Encourage virtual meetings in government offces. 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,” he said.

The chairman further noted that schools should remain closed till at least January 18, 2021, “to enable the measures introduced to take effect”.





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