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News around Africa - Profiles - August 7, 2020

Covid-19: Nigerian Govt Asks Businesses to Resume Normal Operations

Nigeria has extended its current ease of lockdown phase by another four weeks as recommended by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 set up by President Muhammadu Buhari.

One of the modifications to the extension is that corporate businesses can now resume normal work hours from Monday to Friday instead of the initial 9am to 3pm.

Buhari lifted the 3-month-long lockdown on June 1, with strict guidelines for business activities and social gathering as schools, airports and places of worship remained shut. Citizens were also mandated to go about wearing face masks and adhere to relevant personal hygiene.

In the weeks that followed, the President further eased the lockdown – with local airports, worship centres and partially schools now reopened.

Speaking in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, on Thursday, August 7, the Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force, Boss Mustapha said the current guidelines for the ease of lockdown remains in force with slight modifications to address economic, socio-political and health concerns of Nigerians.

According to him, for the next four weeks, state governments and authorities of the Federal Capital Territory would be mandated to enforce non-pharmaceutical measures and intensify measures such as contact tracing.

Nigeria’s Covid-19 Task Force Chairman, Boss Mustapha

Mustapha said, “After due consideration of the recommendations, Mr President approved the following: maintaining the current phase of the national response to COVID-19 for another four weeks in line with the modifications reflected in the report.

“He approved the partnering states and local governments to improve community sensitisation and engagement to the COVID-19 response; and mandating state authorities and the FCT to enforce non-pharmaceutical guidelines, primarily the use of face masks in public appearance and places.

“The President approved that state governments should be encouraged to collaborate with local government authorities to intensify necessary measures such as contact tracing, grass-roots mobilisation and risk communication; and strengthening of collaboration with other mandate groups at federal/state levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response, on the short, medium and long-term basis.”

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He said the new recommendations were necessary to achieve the gradual re-opening of international air flights within established parameters; re-opening of rail transport within established parameters; granting permission to exit classes to resume ahead of examinations; allowing civil servants from Grade Level 12 to resume work; and opening recreational parks for supervised exercises.

The government also stressed that the 10pm to 4am curfew remains in place nationwide as bars, gyms and cinemas would remain shut.

Giving further details, the task force coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu added, “Visiting of hospitalised patients remain limited to immediate family. And we continue to recommend a maximum of 20 people including family members when it comes to attendance of funerals and other essential gatherings such as gatherings that cannot be changed.”

He maintained that schools will remain closed except for graduating classes.

Like corporate businesses, Aliyu said work hours for government offices will now return to normal from Monday to Friday with the mandatory use of non-medical face masks.

“We encourage work at home policy for civil/public servants below the Grade Level 12,” he said.

Banks have been told to begin full operations but advised to avoid the congestion of banking halls. They are to reduce the occupancy of their halls to 50 percent and offices to 75 percent.

Nigeria has so far recorded 45,244 cases of Covid-19, 32,430 people have recovered while 930 died from the virus.

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