FG to relax lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, FCT May 4
…unveils new nationwide measures to fight COVID-19 …excludes Kano in new guidelines, pledges aid to state
The Federal Government has approved for a phased and gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, May 4.
President Muhammadu Buhari announced this in a nationwide broadcast on Monday, where he also rolled out new nationwide measures in the government’s continued effort to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus which has infected 1, 273 persons in the country, with 40 deaths.
The highlights of the new measures, according to the president, include that selected businesses and offices can open from 9am to 6pm; there will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am, which means all movements will be prohibited during this period except essential services.
The president said there will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travels until further notice, and partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers, and there will be mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.
“Furthermore, the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place. State governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens,” Buhari said.
He, however, said this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.
For the avoidance of doubt, the president said the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States shall remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Monday, May 4.
“The Presidential Task Force shall provide sector specific details and timing guidelines to allow for preparations by governments, businesses and institutions,” he said.
“The above are guidelines. State governors may choose to adapt and expand based on their unique circumstances provided they maintain alignment with the guidelines issued above on public health and hygiene,” he said.
Buhari said the revised guidelines will not apply to Kano State.
“The total lockdown recently announced by the state government shall remain enforced for the full duration. The Federal Government shall deploy all the necessary human, material and technical resources to support the state in controlling and containing the pandemic,” he said.
Buhari said the decisions were arrived at in line with the need to develop implementable policies that will ensure the economy continues to function while still maintaining aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The decisions also followed recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters, and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum.
“For the past four weeks, most parts of our country have been under either Federal Government or state government lockdowns. As I mentioned earlier, these steps were necessary and overall, have contributed to slowing down the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.
“However, such lockdowns have also come at a very heavy economic cost. Many of our citizens have lost their means of livelihoods. Many businesses have also shut down. No country can afford the full impact of a sustained lockdown while awaiting the development of vaccines or cures.
“In my last address, I mentioned the Federal Government will develop strategies and policies that will protect lives while preserving livelihoods.
“In these two weeks, the Federal and state governments have jointly and collaboratively worked hard on how to balance the need to protect health while also preserving livelihoods, leveraging global best practice while keeping in mind our peculiar circumstances.
“We looked at how our factories, markets, traders and transporters can continue to function while at the same time adhering to the NCDC guidelines on hygiene and social distancing.
“We assessed how our children can continue to learn without compromising their health.
“We reviewed how our farmers can safely plant and harvest in this rainy season to ensure our food security is not compromised. Furthermore, we also discussed how to safely transport food items from rural production areas to industrial processing zones and ultimately, to the key consumption centres,” he said.
He said he has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria and other financial institutions to make further plans and provisions for financial stimulus packages for small and medium scale enterprises.
“We recognise the critical role that they play in Nigeria’s economy,” he said.
He assured Nigerians that government will continue to ensure the safety of their lives and property.
“Our security agencies continue to rise to the challenge posed by this unusual situation. While we feel deeply concerned about isolated security incidents involving hoodlums and miscreants, I want to assure all Nigerians that your safety and security remains our primary concern especially in these exceedingly difficult and uncertain times.
“As we focus on protecting lives and property, we will not tolerate any human rights abuses by our security agencies. The few reported incidences are regrettable, and I want to assure you that the culprits will be brought to justice,” he said.