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COVID-19 Lockdown Update: Inter-State travels lifted from July 1, other measures on schools, air flights announced

  • Only final year students in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to reopen for final exams
  • Domestic air travels commencement date to be announced by Aviation Ministry

Inter-State lockdown has been lifted in Nigeria effective on Wednesday, July 1, Secretary of the Government of the Federation and chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Coronavirsu (COVID-19), Mr Boss Mustapha has announced.

In addition, all the nation’s schools are to reopen to allow final year students in the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions to resume and sit for their examinations.

Also, domestic travels will reopen “as soon as practicable.”

Mustapha announced the following measures at the daily briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

They include:

  • Permission of movement across State borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;
  • Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by States, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
  • Safe re-opening of schools to allow students in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations;
  • Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable;
  • Publication of revised guidelines around the three thematic areas of general movement, industry and labour; and community activities;
  • Provision of technical support for states to mobilise additional resources for the response;
  • Strengthening partnerships with States, Local Governments, traditional rulers, community/religious leaders and civil society to ensure increased public awareness and compliance with preventive guidelines;
  • Encouraging State governments to empower Local Government Authorities to intensify contact tracing efforts and ensure stronger grassroots mobilisation to support the response;
  • Encourage States and Hospital authorities to ensure continuity of other health services to prevent fatalities from other life-threatening conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Deepening of collaboration with other mandate groups at States/Federal levels to harmonise the country’s COVID-19 response in the short, medium and long terms.

Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF), Dr Sani Aliyu, who gave details of the “moderate changes” aimed at easing the burden on Nigerians arising from COVID-19 lockdown, stated that inter-State travels are allowed only during non-curfew hours of 4am and 10 pm daily.

Dr Sani added that all commercial vehicles are to carry only 50 per cent capacity with each commuter compulsorily wearing face mask.

Also, domestic air travels are expected to resume in July “at a date to be announced by the Ministry of Aviation.

The COVID-19 Presidential Coordinator warned that the government would withdraw permission from any operator who violates the conditions of the moderate easing of the lockdown or fails to comply with other subsisting COVID-19 health protocols.

Earlier, Mr Mustapha warned Nigerians to note that “the virus is still dangerous and has continued to wreak havoc at home and abroad. The exponential rise in number of cases detected and the fatalities gives cause for concern.”

He “admonished Nigerians to change their behavior in view of the fact that the spread of the virus had entered the community phase. It is the considered opinion of the PTF that Nigerians, though aware of the existence of the virus, have generally misunderstood the objectives behind the reasoning of government in gradually relaxing the restrictions.”

Asking all Nigerians to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols, Mustapha said that “for every detected case, there is a high possibility that up to five (5) have not submitted to testing and therefore not detected.”

He also said that both the federal and State governments “have greatly improved our ability to maximally detect, trace, isolate and treat nationwide successfully. ​The PTF has also continued to pursue the strategic thrust of “telling (communicate), tracing (identify) and treating (manage)” cases, with a stronger focus on precision interventions in high burdened LGAs within identified states of the Federation.

“This precision intervention will be signposted by aggressive scaling up of efforts to ensure effective community protection and sensitisation; and increased provision of support and guidance to states in their response to the outbreak. The focus on the important roles to be played by the States is underscored by the following considerations:

i. The spread has entered the community phase which only States and LGAs should drive;

ii. The inaction of a particular State could endanger its neighbours and compromise the entirety of the response;

iii. States will be encouraged to make considerable efforts to ensure a push for compliance within the guidelines issued by the PTF;

iv. States must also take greater care in leading on public health measures in the LGAs under their jurisdiction, by working on surveillance, case finding, testing, isolation, tracing and quarantining contacts; and

v. FG will predicate its resource deployment to States on the level of compliance and the extent of collaboration received on this public health emergency.”

Mustapha noted that “notwithstanding the challenges faced in the last one month and the fact that Nigeria’s statistics have been on the rise, substantial progress has been made in the following areas:

i. Harnessing of data, which shows that 60% of the confirmed cases are in a handful of local governments in the country (18 out of 774 LGAs nationwide), and putting in place targeted interventions;

ii. Increased capacity to detect, test and trace those infected with the virus, through the activation of 38 molecular testing laboratories, resulting in raising the test count nationwide in excess of 130,000; 

iii. A shift in focus to a targeted community-based approach, enhanced risk communication;

iv. Increased collaboration with the legislature, State Governments and the organised private sector;

v. Activation of a new, cost-effective policy on the evacuation of returning Nigerians;

vi. Increased awareness of COVID-19 among the population;

vii. Cushioning the socio-economic impact of the restrictions through the provision of palliatives to vulnerable members of various communities nationwide; and

viii. Successful re-opening sectors of the economy despite initial challenges in areas such as the banking sector, industry and agriculture.”

He noted that as the PTF submitted its 5th Interim Report to Mr. President for his consideration, it explained the following:

i. Implications of the lack of general compliance with measures;

ii. the global and domestic developments especially in the area of rising statistics; and

iii. the continued restrictions in the education and transportation sectors as well as for activities that attract mass gatherings such as operations of markets, worship centres and entertainment.”

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