The outbreak of COVID-19 in February 2020 had crippled a lot of social and economic activities as Nigeria, like many other countries globally, went into lockdown.
The government started lifting restrictions in May with many sectors reopening since then, albeit in limited capacities.
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 announced during its media briefing on Thursday, September 3 that President Buhari approved its recommendations to move into the third phase of eased lockdown after the second phase had been extended three times.
One of the key adjustments made was the reopening of cinemas, gyms, and amusement parks that have been directed to restart operations only at half capacity.
Event centres that provide outdoor spaces can also reopen but not indoor event centres. Bars and night clubs will remain closed, according to the PTF’s national coordinator, Sani Aliyu.
He said educational institutions will remain closed but should begin to work towards potentially reopening within the third phase of eased lockdown.
He urged state governments to conduct risk assessments to ensure all schools are at acceptable levels of compliance with non-pharmaceutical measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Aliyu said even when schools reopen, it must be staggered and carried out in phases to ensure it doesn’t pose a risk to the public.
He also noted that National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps will likely reopen at the exact same time as schools.
The nationwide curfew hours were also adjusted from between 10 pm and 4 am to between 12 am and 4 am, effective Friday, September 4 when the third phase of eased lockdown begins.
“This does not apply to people on essential services and international travellers that might be returning from abroad,” Aliyu said.
The Federal Government also removed all restrictions on opening days and limits in stores, but store owners must take responsibility by abiding by non-pharmaceutical measures to safeguard staff and customers.
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Ahead of the resumption of international flights on Saturday, September 5, the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said no hitches are anticipated.
The minister announced a list of airlines that are allowed to land in the country when operations resume, and those that are banned.
Airlines approved to start landing from Saturday are British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Africa World Airlines, Kenya Airways, Middle East Airlines, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air Sky, and Air Côte d’Ivoire.
Foreign airlines that are on the banned list are Air France, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Etihad Airways, RwandAir, Air Namibia, Royal Air Maroc, Lufthansa, and TAAG Angola.
Sirika said the decision to ban or approve airlines was taken based on the guidelines of the task force, and travel restrictions initiated by other countries.
Like the minister had previously mentioned, flights are not allowed from countries that have first banned flights from Nigeria as part of their own COVID-19 response.
He said all intending international travellers to Nigeria must have tested positive for COVID-19 by PCR in their country of departure before boarding. The PCR test must be done within four days before departure.
Non-Nigerians that violate the government’s guidelines regarding international travel will be refused entry and returned to the point of embarkation at the cost to the airline.
Nigerian violators will be allowed entry but subjected to a mandatory quarantine of eight to 14 days, depending on the result of a COVID-19 PCR test done after seven days of arrival.
“So once you come, we will force you into quarantine at a facility approved by government and to the cost of the passenger,” Sirika said.
Airlines will be fined $3,500 per passenger for failure to comply with pre-boarding requirements according to the minister.
Source: Pulse Nigeria.