• Cinemas, gyms to reopen
  • Curfew now 12am to 4am

All restrictions on markets and commercial stores have been lifted, Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 Control announced in Abuja on Thursday.

PTF National Coordinator Dr. Sani Aliyu added that the Federal Government approved the reopening of cinemas, gyms, amusement parks and outdoor event centres.

But the facilities can only operate at half capacity to minimise risks posed by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Aliyu said: “In terms of communal commercial spaces, including markets, we are removing all restrictions on opening days and limits on stores. But store owners must take responsibility by abiding with non-pharmaceutical interventions and policies to safeguard their staff and patrons of their facilities.

“We will be working with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and other state governments to make sure that the task force on compliance continues to be active during this phase.”

The night curfew, he said will now begin from midnight till 4.00am.

Explaining that the changes in the protocols were the result of transition into the third phase, the national coordinator, said bars and night clubs will remain closed.

He said: “For the hospitality and entertainment industry, hotels will continue to remain open but observing all non-pharmaceutical interventions. Amusement parks, gyms and cinemas can open but at half capacity. Event centres that provide outdoor service spaces can open but not indoor event centres.

“Eateries and restaurants can only open for outdoor services and we will make sure this is complied with. Bars and nightclubs are to remain closed till further notice.

“Each authority within the state can provide additional guidelines for minimising risk as it relates to these facilities and industries.

“For recreational facilities and sports, nothing has changed. We have already removed restrictions on outdoor and communal non-contact sports, and the use of recreational parks for supervised exercise.

“For gatherings including wedding, parties, meetings etc., we are expanding the limit to 50 people, preferably outdoors not in enclosed spaces. Also, attendees must wear face masks and they must ensure proper sanitisation of their hands and maintaining physical distancing.”

On working arrangements for public and private organisations, Aliyu said: “We will allow the private sector to determine the optimal working capacity within the offices, while ensuring enough physical distancing and preserving the healthcare of workers on their payroll.

“For the public sector, we are maintaining the restriction and encouraging the work-at-home policy for workers below Grade Level 12. Those on Grade Level 12 and above would be allowed to come to work.

Aliyu said the curfew will not apply to people on essential services and international travellers that might be returning from abroad.

“We will be engaging closely with state governments with regards to the issue of compliance particularly with face masks because we remain quite concerned about the low level of compliance with this simple intervention measure that we know is quite effective.”

On schools, the PTF coordinator urged state governments to begin elaborate process of risk assessment for the safe reopening of schools.

He said daycare, primary, secondary and tertiary schools should begin the process of working towards potentially reopening, adding that all daycares and in-passing classes should remain closed until the completion of the risk assessment.

Aliyu urged the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to consolidate on safety measures currently being put in place and begin preparing for the opening of orientation camps when educational institutions reopen.

He said: “For educational institutions which includes – daycare, primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions should we begin the process of working towards potentially reopening within this phase.

“However, we strongly recommend that states conduct risk assessment to ensure that all schools are at a level of compliance and create a monitoring mechanism to access and monitor this level of compliance.

“Meanwhile, all day care and educational institutions are to remain closed to in-passing classes until this level of risk is assessed and if there will be opening up schools, it must be staged and preferably carried out in phases to ensure that this does not pose a risk to the general public, and in particular developer bill groups that might end up getting infected by students going back home.

“The PTF continues to work closely with INEC. We are pleased the last election conducted in Nasarawa State was successful. We will continue to partner with INEC to ensure that the election process does not pose a risk to the scourge of COVID-19.”