COVID-19: Presidential Task Force Release Lockdown Protocol

*Mr. Boss Mustapha, Chairman COVID-19 Presidential Task Force at the daily briefing

As a follow-up to the sit-at-home order, which at the first instance affects Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Containment of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, has announced the implementation guideline that should regulate citizen behaviour during the lockdown.

The guideline contained the protocol for the enforcement of the lockdown policy. Coordinator of the PTF, Dr. Aliyu Sani, read out the guide and protocol handbook at the daily press briefing of the task force. It was after the adoption of the protocol handbook had been announced by task force Chairman, Mr. Boss Mustapha, who is the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). The handbook expectedly spelt out clearly what is expected of Nigerians living in the areas affected by the restriction order, businesses and law enforcers.

According to the guide, residents of the areas within the 14 days are to remain within their residences, except for those who might be engaged in the provision of essential services. It also prescribed the total shut down of all borders into the states and the FCT, prohibiting all movements, including vehicular, into, out of or within the affected areas, except for those on essential services or for movements of food, fuel, manufactured goods or relief materials.

The forms of exemptions to the order, categories of people and circumstances that would be eligible for the exemptions, were clearly spelt out. The documents stated, “As part of the measures in place to enforce social distancing and limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2, the Federal Government of Nigeria has decided that schools, organisations and businesses in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States will close effective from 30 March 2020 at  23:00h for an initial period of 2 weeks.

“For the period of the lockdown, every person is confined to his or her place of residence, unless strictly for the purpose of performing an essential service, obtaining an essential good or service, or seeking medical care. All borders linking the two States and FCT to the rest of the country are shut during the period of the lockdown, except for the transportation of persons on essential duty, food, fuel, manufactured goods or donated relief items. Security agencies should note this.

“Mass gathering is prohibited, except for funeral services as guided by infection prevention and control regulations, for which social distancing rules apply and crowds are limited to not more than 20 persons. Movement between and within the affected States and FCT is restricted, except for workers involved in the delivery of authorised essential services, duties, food and goods. Retail shops and malls must be closed, except where essential goods are sold. Shops and malls that are open must enforce social distancing and hygiene measures in line with issued guidelines.

“Any business or organisation providing essential goods and services must identify the staff who will perform those services. Commuter services between cities and states, including passenger rail services, bus services, e-hulling services, maritime and air passenger transport are suspended for the period of the lockdown in the affected states. Limited transport services are allowed for the movement of workers, services and goods in response to COVID-19 and for the purpose of seeking medical attention or provision of essential services. Transport services available during the lockdown must implement social distancing and hygiene measures.”

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