Amid the dreaded second wave and rising spread of COVID-19 in the country, the Federal Capital Territory Administration and the governments of Lagos and Ebonyi states have banned some large gatherings in their respective domains.
While Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State banned concerts, carnivals, street parties and nightclubs, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello, imposed some restrictions and issued fresh safety protocols in their respective areas.
This, they said, was to curb the rising spread of the virus, which rose to 77,013 on Friday. The number of deaths also rose from 1,201 to 1,212.
Sanwo-Olu, who has contracted the virus and is undergoing treatment, said in a statement on Friday that it was wrong and dangerous for the public to think the worst as regards the virus was over. He also reinstated the 12 am to 4 am curfew imposed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on the state.
The governor lamented that credible reports indicated that the entertainment industry was planning large gatherings, concerts, street parties and carnivals, in the spirit of the Yuletide while night clubs have also reopened in reckless disregard for the existing guidelines. He said event centres were also operating with huge gatherings without any regard for public health and safety guidelines.
In the statement, titled, ‘We cannot afford to relax the battle against COVID-19’, the governor described as overwhelming the non-compliance of places of worship with the guidelines in both their regular and special gatherings organised to commemorate the season.
The governor added, “All public servants from Grade Level 14 and below, except emergency workers and first responders, are to work from home as from Monday, December 21 for the next 14 days in the first instance.
“All schools must shut down with immediate effect, and until further notice. Concerts, carnivals and street parties are banned in Lagos State until further notice.
“Nightclubs have not been allowed to open yet. All nightclubs in Lagos must immediately shut down, until further notice. The midnight to 4am curfew imposed by the Federal Government remains in place. The protocol of ‘No Mask No Entry’ must be enforced by all public places: offices, businesses, markets, shops and so on.”
He added that all places of worship, including churches and mosques, must ensure that no gathering exceeds two hours and that no gathering exceeds 50 per cent of the maximum capacity of the venue.
Sanwo-Olu, who is the COVID-19 Incident Commander in Lagos State, added that all event planners must obtain prior clearance from the Lagos State Safety Commission for all events and ensure compliance with safety protocols and that people should adhere to the two-metre distancing rule and the use of face mask at all times in public, among other guidelines. He directed security agencies to ensure full compliance with the safety protocols.
He added, “Security agents have been mandated to ensure full enforcement, without exception. No one will be deemed to be above the law. Any and all breaches of these regulations and public health protocols will lead to immediate closure as well as attract heavy fines and any other sanctions and penalties deemed fit, in line with the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Control Regulation 2020.”
While warning unaccredited private hospitals against treating COVID-19 patients, the governor vowed that private test centres issuing fake results would be prosecuted without hesitation. He pointed out that 10 out of every 100 tests now come out positive, noting that out of the 197,000 tests carried out so far in the state, 26,000 tested positive and 226 died.
Sanwo-Olu added, “This virus does not discriminate. We must take responsibility and not treat this pandemic with levity. This second wave calls for a full re-awakening of caution and precaution.”
In Ebonyi State, the governor directed that church services be held for only two hours across the state, even as he called on Ebonyi citizens, including corporate organisations and leadership of motor parks, to observe all the COVID-19 protocols.
He said, “The second wave is already with us. We have not started experiencing it in the South-East. We must go back and observe the protocols. Services should not last more than two hours. Four hundred and fifty persons should be tested in each LGA. I have suspended large gatherings in Ebonyi.
“The usual Night of Praise will be shifted to January. We have decided to shift our Thanksgiving Service to the Ecumenical Centre. You must go with face masks. All treatment centres should be reactivated.”
Umahi also commended governors in the South-East for enforcing the COVID-19 protocols.
Meanwhile, the governor also described as laughable the setting up of a security outfit within the South-East region by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra Nnamdi Kanu.
Speaking at the Government House in Abakaliki while briefing journalists on the recent developments in the country, Umahi said the South-East remained the safest region in the country.
Umahi said, “Our region remains the safest. When our brother said he had set up a security outfit; it was laughable. It is the duty of the governors to protect the lives of our citizens. IPOB’s claim that it has established a security outfit in the South-East is laughable. Anybody doing anything to the contrary should be ignored. Our youths should be warned against being used as agents of destruction.”
Similarly, the Federal Capital Territory Administration has issued fresh COVID-19 guidelines regulating congregations, workplaces and market places to minimise further spread of the virus in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Announcing the guidelines in Abuja on Friday, the FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello, stated that enforcement teams would be out on the streets to ensure compliance, adding that the FCTA would work closely with the judiciary through the Mobile Courts under existing laws.
He said COVID-19 figures over the last three weeks in FCT had been unacceptably high and there was an urgent need to contain it as much and as fast as possible.
The minister, therefore, directed that the proper use of face masks and temperature checks on all staff members, visitors and customers entering office and business premises in the FCT had become mandatory.
He added, “No mask, no entry, no service. All office and business premises must have a hand-wash station with running water and soap or hand sanitiser. Employees who are feeling unwell or have COVID-19 symptoms should notify their supervisors immediately or stay at home and seek medical attention to confirm the diagnosis by doing a COVID-19-test.
He called for total compliance with all safety guidelines, adding that the holiday season demands that we also place special emphasis on market places, places of worship and entertainment as well as recreational centres which traditionally attract large gatherings during this period.