The Federal Government has approved what it called “safe reopening” of schools nationwide in the next phase of the gradual easing of lockdown ordered to curtail further spread of COVID-19.
However, during the safe reopening only graduating pupils in Primary 6, Junior Secondary School 3 and Senior Secondary School 3 will resume.
Higher institutions, day care centres and other classes in primary and secondary schools, apart from final classes, will remain closed.
The government has also during the safe reopening lifted the ban placed on interstate travels with effect from July 1, provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, disclosed these at the daily briefing of the task force in Abuja on Monday.
Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, had earlier in the day told State House correspondents that the mortality rate of COVID-19 had been low in Nigeria due to the age bracket of most of those infected, saying most victims of the disease were in the age bracket of 31 to 40 years.
He spoke when he led members of the task force to brief the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on efforts being made to curtail further spread of the covid-19.
At the daily briefing, however, he said the government had approved the safe reopening of domestic flights in the country.
He said the reopening of schools was meant to allow pupils in graduating classes resume preparation for examinations.
He disclosed that the latest developments were contained in the task force’s fifth interim report which was submitted to the President earlier in the day.
He said Buhari approved the extension of the Phase II of the lockdown by another four weeks.
Mustapha said, “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the 5th Interim Report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, the Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020.
“Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect:
“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the national coordinator;
“Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020;
“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by states, in particular, the use of face masks in public places;
“Safe reopening of schools to allow pupils in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations. Safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable.”
Nationwide curfew remains in force
Giving further details on the latest developments, the task force’s national coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, said, “The current nationwide curfew will remain. We will maintain restrictions on mass gatherings and sporting activities. Domestic aviation services will recommence.
“Movement across state boundaries will be allowed but only outside curfew hours. Pupils in graduating classes – only graduating classes; Primary 6, JSS 3 and SSS3 – will be allowed to resume in preparation for examinations.”
PTF lists conditions for bus parks
According to him, transporters must adhere to guidelines that will be released by the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
He explained that waiting passengers must maintain social distancing, adding that there must be temperature checks.
“If you are not wearing a mask, you will not be allowed entry to the parks and terminals. We also expect transporters to arrange for crowd control. Buses must have a maximum of 50 per cent capacity,” he said.
The PTF coordinator added that state governments would inspect facilities and confirm compliance as a pre-condition for resumption of interstate operations by transporters. “Non-compliance with the guidelines will result in withdrawal of permission to operate interstate mass transit,” he stated.
FG restricts movement in high burden LGAs
Aliyu further said, “For intrastate travelling, we will maintain the occupancy level for buses to 50 per cent and two passengers for taxis, but we will restrict movement in high-burdened local government areas to essential travels only. This will be part of the hotspot strategies that will be introduced.”
He said companies’ working hours must not violate the nationwide curfew hours from 10 pm to 4am. “Offices must maintain working at 75 per cent capacity,” Aliyu added.
Churches, mosques, cinemas remain closed
“For hotels, restaurants and eateries, there is no specific change. Hotels must observe all mandatory non-pharmaceutical interventions. Restaurants should remain closed for eat-in, with strict cleanliness guidelines except for restaurants that are serving hotel residents.”
The PTF coordinator stated that gyms, cinemas, event centres and nightclubs would remain closed, just as churches and mosques. He added that the restrictions on recreational parks/communal sports would remain until further evaluation.
Day care, primary, secondary schools, higher institutions remain shut during the safe reopening
Explaining the partial reopening of schools, Aliyu said, “For educational activities, all day care and primary schools to remain closed until further evaluation. Schools are encouraged to continue with e-learning and virtual teaching. But pupils may proceed to take the national common entrance (examination) as soon as it is feasible, provided there is compliance with issued non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“For secondary and tertiary institutions, all schools to remain closed until further evaluation. Arrangements are to be made for exiting graduating students in the JSS 3 and the SS3 to resume at both boarding and day schools as soon as possible for intensive revision exercises.
According to him, arrangements are to be made for pupils taking external examinations such as the West African Examination Council exams.
FG says hike in airfare inevitable
While answering a question on the possible hike in airfare by the time domestic flights resume, Mustapha said the situation was inevitable.
He said since profit remained the motivation for going into business and flying is not a social service, business owners would find a way of recouping their money.