- Nation not ripe for end of lockdown, says Buhari
- Schools, worship centres, airports to remain shut
The measures imposed on the nation by President Muhammadu Buhari in the first phase of the eased lockdown will continue for two weeks, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control, said on Monday.
The measures announced by the President in an April 27 broadcast, which took effect on May 4, include:
- Ban on non-essential inter-state movement
- Nationwide 8pm to 6am curfew
- Observance of personal hygiene, social distancing and wearing of face masks and
- Restriction on religious and social gatherings.
After reviewing the situation since the guidelines went into operation, the Federal Government decided it was not yet time to completely ease the lockdown.
The continuation of the measures will expire on June 1.
Unveiling the development on Monday, PTF Chairman Boss Mustapha, who led some of the members to brief President Buhari on Sunday, said: “Ladies and gentlemen, the reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority. Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace.
“Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.
“The two weeks extension of Phase one of the eased restriction is also to enable other segments of the economy prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks.
“For the PTF, we share your pains but our future is in the hands of every Nigerian and future decisions will depend greatly on our compliance.
“Based on the recommendations of the PTF, Mr. President has approved the following: The measures, exemptions, advisories and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 00 midnight today (18th May, 2020 to 1st June, 2020);
“Intensifying efforts to “tell (communicate), trace (identify) and treat (manage)’ cases; elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions;
“Maintain the existing lockdown order in Kano for an additional two weeks; Imposition of precision lockdown in states, or in metropolitan/high-burden LGAs, that are reporting a rapidly increasing number of cases, when the need arises. This would be complemented with the provision of palliatives and continued re-evaluation of the impact of the interventions; and
“Aggressive scale up of efforts to ensure that communities are informed, engaged and participating in the response with enhanced public awareness in high risk states”, he said.
He said all the exemptions granted in the first phase of the eased lockdown would remain in force, especially as related to farmers who need to resume for planting season.
Mustapha announced plans by the government to mitigate the economic implications of the virus pandemic on businesses.
“In recognition of the global impact of COVID-19 on economies and the need to stimulate and positively turn around our economy, the Federal Government has been implementing various stimulus packages offered to businesses and state governments through the CBN. These include: reduction of interest rates from nine per cent to five per cent for all CBN intervention facilities.
“Restructuring of loans to longer tenors for all companies whose businesses are adversely impacted by COVID-19; N50 billion facilities to household and businesses adversely impacted by COVID-19 through NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank;
“N100 billion facility to pharmaceutical and health sectors companies to retool their businesses; N1 trillion facility to agric and manufacturing companies to expand and set up new factories; and suspension of repayment of all state government loans for one year to give states ample financing room to pay salaries”, he said