The Federal Government has announced a reversion to the old order of restricting movement and other measures over the spread of the Coronavirus Disease in the country.
The decision was announced by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 at a news briefing in Abuja on Monday.
The measures put in place, beginning from 1am on Tuesday (today), included a 12am to 4am curfew, restriction of number of those who can gather for public events, including at worship centres, and return to online mode of meetings.
Nigeria’s COVID-19 National Incident Manager, Mukhtar Mohammed, and the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, said the decision was hinged on the rapid spread of the new strain of the virus and the upcoming Sallah celebrations.
India, South Africa, Turkey and Brazil have had a spike in number of deaths with the new strains recorded in their countries.
This is more so for India, where daily infections soared to over 400,000 and death for several days at over 4,000 each.
The B.1.351 variant of the virus, first found in South Africa, has spread to 23 African countries, among which are Nigeria’s neighbours, including Cameroon, Togo and Ghana.
Mohammed said at the news briefing on Monday: “Further to these recommendations and effective from 0001hours of Tuesday, May 11, 2021, this Phase IV of the phased restriction of movement shall come into effect.
“We shall maintain restrictions of mass gatherings outside work settings with a maximum number of 50 people in an enclosed space.
“Approved gatherings must be held with physical distancing measures and other non-pharmaceutical interventions in place.”
Mohammed said there would be enforcement of a mandatory requirement of a seven-day quarantine for all international passengers, adding: “Enforced temperature checks and no mask, no entry policy in all public settings; workplace buildings, businesses and places of worship. Access to government and commercial premises should be denied to persons without face masks.
“The nationwide curfew will be imposed tonight at midnight and it will run through till 4am.
“No formal restrictions on movement within the country even as citizens are encouraged to refrain from non-essential movements and comply with all non-pharmaceutical interventions and guidelines.
“People who are above 60 and or with co-morbidities are encouraged to stay at home. Only essential international travels are encouraged.”
Mohammed said while hotels are to remain open, they must adhere to all non-pharmaceutical interventions, with schools expected to deploy the use of antigen-based rapid tests as recommended in the guidelines by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
He said indoor recreational facilities and gyms are to remain closed until June 11 when the situation would be reviewed, while non-contact outdoor sports such as gulf, Polo and tennis were not affected.
He said: “In terms of working arrangement, virtual meetings should be encouraged to take place as much as possible.
“We should avoid large meetings, decongest offices and ensure they are well ventilated.
“States have been asked to institute mobile courts to help enforce on the spot fines and close premises that violate these prohibitions.
“On communal services, markets and stores, they should ensure that there are spot checks of commercial premises and observed or mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“Facility owners and managers and store owners are to ensure that physical distancing is observed.
“All mass gatherings remain restricted to 50 persons except where explicit permission has been granted by the state governments.
“Hotels are to remain open, but they must observe or non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“Schools have already opened.
“However, they should consider the use of approved antigen based rapid diagnostics tests as recommended by the NCDC.
“All religious gatherings should be limited to less than 50 per cent capacity to ensure physical distancing and use of face masks are mandatory.
“All recreational venues, gyms and indoor sports facilities are to close until June 11 when the situation will be reviewed.
“However, non-contact outdoor sports such as golf, polo and tennis are not affected by these.
“Gatherings in weddings, parties and meetings should also comply with 50 persons.
“Mass political gatherings, gatherings in the open, a large number of people are strictly to adhere this COVID-19 protocol.
“Event centres, night clubs shall remain closed until further notice.
“Restaurants are to provide eat-in at 50 per cent capacity and provide takeaways where available.”
Ehanire said the experience of other countries such as India, Pakistan and Thailand showed the unpredictable nature of the virus, urging Nigerians not to lose their guard.
He urged Nigerians to take responsibility as they celebrated Sallah, adding that the experience of the third wave of the virus from India among others was fuelled by elections and religious gatherings.
He said: “It is important to remain aware of risks involved in traveling, gathering, celebrating and generally letting down our guards.
“I urge everyone to take responsibility for their personal and their family’s safety from COVID-19 infection.
“Experience from India and other countries showed us that the terrible third wave that has caused so much loss of human lives was facilitated and fuelled by events immediately related to political campaigns, elections and religious gatherings.
“These contributed greatly to the explosion of cases that India is currently battling with today.
“As we celebrate the Sallah days ahead, let us remember this warning and ensure that we avoid all situations that tempt us to forget COVID-19 preventive measures and life-saving non-pharmaceutical measures.”