• Second phase of eased lockdown begins today, ends June 29
• Final year students may sit for examinations in July
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Monday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), had approved the relaxation of restriction placed on churches and mosques starting from Tuesday (today).
The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this at the PTF press briefing in Abuja, said the reopening of churches and mosques would be based on guidelines issued by the task force and protocols agreed on by states.
But the Coordinator of the PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu, gave detailed explanations of the recommendations approved by the President.
In its reaction, the Christian Association of Nigeria disclosed that it was awaiting the details of the reopening of worship centres.
Mustapha said the ban on interstate movements, which the President, in his April 27 broadcast, imposed on the nation, remained. He stated that the second phase of eased lockdown would begin on Tuesday (today) and end on June 29.
Buhari had on April 27 imposed an 8pm to 6am curfew on the nation and introduced a total lockdown on Kano State, which recorded a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Mustapha said the PTF on Sunday submitted a report to the President based on its review of the eased lockdown. According to him, the second phase will be guided by “data and science.”
He said the PTF recommendations were, among others, based on the impacts of COVID-19 on the global economy and all national economies as well as pain the lockdown brought upon the poor.
He said the PTF took into consideration the advisory of the World Health Organisation on the need to follow a slow and phased approach that is data driven.
The chairman said, under the eased lockdown, Nigeria’s confirmed cases increased, adding that the majority of the confirmed cases were in 20 out of the 774 local government areas in the country.
Second phase of eased lockdown begins Tuesday ends June 29
Mustapha stated, “The PTF submitted its recommendations and the President has approved the following for implementation over the next four weeks spanning June 2 to June 29 subject to review: cautious advance into the second phase of the national response to COVID-19.”
FG rolls out guidelines for second phase of eased lockdown
According to him, during the second phase, there will be mobilisation of resources at state and local government levels to create public awareness on COVID -19.
He also said there would be “ban on gatherings of more than 20 people outside of a workplace (and) relaxation of restriction on places of worship based on guidelines issued by the PTF and protocols agreed by state governments.”
…Schools remain closed, final year students to prepare for exams
He added, “All schools to remain closed until further evaluation. The Federal Ministry of Education is instructed to work with schools to start the process of preparing students that require exiting exams, to allow them to take exams early in the next phase of the lifting of the lockdown. But for the moment, schools are to remain closed.
“I have already mentioned places of worship. Restricted opening will apply subject to the guidelines issued by the PTF as well as the protocols agreed by respective state governments, working with religious leaders.
“Recreational parks and communal sports to remain closed until further evaluation.
He said for funerals, the task force was limiting the crowd to 20 people including family, with physical distancing adhered to, as well as hand washing.
At the press conference, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government was anticipating a second wave of COVID-19 infections after the relaxation of the lockdown.
Reopening: We await further details, says CAN
Meanwhile, the Special Assistant on Media and Communication to the CAN President, Adebayo Oladeji, said the association was awaiting further details.
He said, “We want to get the details before we will react fully. But in the interim, it is a welcome development. It is our prayer that God will surely deliver Nigeria from the pandemic in Jesus Name.
“If Christians and Muslims return to their worship places to pray for victory over COVID-19, God will surely answer us. The closure of the worship places is not acceptable to God. We thank God for opening the eyes of our government to the reality.
“The Church is ready for the reopening and willing to follow the NCDC guidelines and while waiting for them. We have already directed all churches to keep to the hygienic regulations whenever they meet and to pray for the victory over COVID-19. The new development is as a result of our meeting with the religious leaders.”