By Ovie Okpare
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday placed ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travel until further notice as part of efforts to checkmate further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
He also said the restriction on social and religious gatherings across the country would remain in force.
Buhari also declared a nationwide curfew beginning from Monday May 4th, 2020 between the hours of 8pm to 6am daily.
Mr. President declared this on Monday during a nationwide broadcast to Nigerians on the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.
The President who said the nation has made remarkable progress in taming the spread of the virus, however, extended the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and FCT (Abuja) by additional one week.
He said the lockdown will be relaxed as from Monday May 4th, 2020 to allow for commercial activities between the hours of 9am to 6pm daily.
“Furthermore, new nationwide measures are to be introduced as follows; There will be an overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period except for essential services;
“There will be a ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travel until further notice;
“Partial and controlled interstate movement of goods and services will be allowed for the movement of goods and services from producers to consumers; and
“We will strictly ensure the mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public in addition to maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene.
“Furthermore, the restrictions on social and religious gatherings shall remain in place. State Governments, corporate organisations and philanthropists are encouraged to support the production of cloth masks for citizens.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the lockdown in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States shall remain in place until these new ones come into effect on Monday, 4th May 2020.
According to him, the directive is to enable the nation’s economy to function while intensifying its response to the disease.
Buhari said, “Our goal was to develop implementable policies that will ensure our economy continues to function while still maintaining our aggressive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These same difficult decisions are being faced by leaders around the world.
“ Based on the above and in line with the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the various Federal Government committees that have reviewed socio-economic matters and the Nigeria Governors Forum, I have approved a phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos and Ogun States effective from Monday, 4th May, 2020.
“However, this will be followed strictly with aggressive reinforcement of testing and contact tracing measures while allowing the restoration of some economic and business activities in certain sectors.”