By James Ogunnaike
ABEOKUTA – Following the extension of the lockdown for a week by President Mohammadu Buhari, Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun has extended the total lockdown in the State for another one week.
The governor also adjusted the relaxation window by adding three hours to the seven hours being given to the residents of the state before now.
Abiodun, who said this during a broadcast held at his Oke-Mosan office in Abeokuta, while giving update on COVID 19 in the state, explained that his decision was in line with the order of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “In line with Mr. President’s address to the entire nation, the lockdown is still in place. However, the lockdown will begin to be relaxed gradually and in phases from Monday, 4th May, in consideration of the peculiarity of the different States”.
“To this end, our relaxation window remains Monday, 4th May; Wednesday, 6th May; and Friday, 8th May. The new time frame will, however, now be from 7am to 5pm on those days. This will give our people ample time to conduct necessary economic activities and to get to their various homes before the commencement of the daily curfew as directed by Mr. President”, Abiodun said.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the curfew is from 8pm to 6am everyday and will be strictly enforced”.
” It is obvious that no nation can survive a total lockdown of economic activities for an elongated time and therefore all we can do is to strike a balance between public health safety and economic welfare of the citizenry. No doubt, this is a fragile situation. Therefore, it is very important that all of us adhere strictly to recommendations of professionals during this delicate period, especially, and at all times, as we go about our daily economic activities”.
The governor reiterated that “the use of face mask is now compulsory in public. We have procured over one million face masks that we are distributing across the State to groups such as Market Women, Artisans, Transport Unions, Law Enforcement Agencies, Civil Servants and religious groups among others. Nevertheless, everybody has a personal responsibility to procure and wear a face mask”.
“The COVID-19 task force at a meeting with market leaders set up COVID-19 enforcement committees in our various markets. These enforcement committees have been empowered to enforce physical distancing, the use of face masks and the deployment of hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers at strategic locations within our various markets”.
“Let me emphasize that those handling food items must also wear hand gloves and maintain high level of personal and hand hygiene in addition to wearing face masks”.
“At another meeting with transport operators, we inaugurated a joint task force of transporters and security agencies to ensure that transporters and passengers wear face masks and enforce the strict compliance of no interstate travel, except vehicles on essential services with a maximum of five persons which includes the driver. All these persons must provide proof of their connection with the vehicle and the particular service the vehicle provides”.
” We will not condone any act that could sabotage the ban on interstate travel by any of these vehicles or persons on essential services. For avoidance of doubt, there will be no interstate travels whatsoever for persons living in Ogun State and working in other states, including Lagos”.
“For intrastate transport, operators are permitted to carry a maximum of half (50%) of the passenger capacity. Specifically, a taxi cab can carry only three passengers, with one in front and a maximum of 2 in the rear seat. 14 seater buses must carry no more than 7 passengers spread across the rows. Tricycle can carry a maximum of 2 passengers, whilst okada riders can carry only one passenger at a time. In all cases, drivers/riders must not only wear face masks, they must ensure that their passengers also wear. Failure to comply with these guidelines will lead to the confiscation of the vehicles or okada”.
“As we go on to relax the lockdown gradually and in phases, let me state that we cannot afford a blanket lift on all aspects of our lives because of the inherent dangers”.
The governor emphasised that “All educational institutions remain closed till further notice. However, students in public schools will continue their learning via Digiclass. 30% of public servants are to resume for work on the days of windows of relaxation of lockdown. Head of Service will issue circular providing details. As usual, all essential service personnel will continue to work notwithstanding the lockdown”.
“All public religious gatherings remained banned. All pubs, clubs, stadia, public pools, spars, gyms, salons, etc., and indeed, any assembly of more than fifteen persons remain banned till further notice. However, restaurants may open on the approved days for take-out meals only”.
“We, however, do not object to naming rites of newborns and burial rites of our deceased loved ones. But such gatherings must not be more than the prescribed 15 which includes even the officiating priests and all attendees must observe social distancing”, he added.
“We have to continue to ensure that we protect public health and safety by all means possible. Consequently, we have established mobile courts where offenders will be prosecuted promptly. Let me state, that we will not shy away from visiting the full weight of the law on anyone found culpable. The punishments will be fines, community service or both”.