Nigeria to ease lockdowns in three states over six-week period

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria will ease coronavirus lockdowns in three states over a six-week period from May 4, the head of the country’s task force on the virus said on Wednesday.

The easing of restrictions in Lagos, Abuja and Ogun states will be split into two-week phases, said Boss Mustapha, the chairman of Nigeria’s presidential task force for COVID-19.

He was providing details after President Muhammadu Buhari announced on Monday that there would be a “phased and gradual” easing of the lockdowns.

The number of coronavirus cases has, however, continued to rise. On Tuesday, Nigeria reported 195 new cases of the novel coronavirus, nearly double the previous daily high. There are now 1,532 confirmed cases and 44 deaths.

“The easing of restrictions and introduction of revised measures do not amount to the end of this battle against COVID-19,” Mustapha said, referring to the respiratory disease that the coronavirus can cause.

“Indeed, it signifies the need for more vigilance and stringent compliance so that we are not lulled into complacence capable of diminishing the progress we have made so far.”

Sani Aliyu, the national coordinator of the task force, said people may move around for work, buying food, exercise and healthcare. Banks will be allowed to open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and gatherings of up to 20 people are allowed.

But schools will remain closed, passenger flights will remain banned, restaurants will operate only on a takeaway basis, and all cultural events are cancelled.

Public places will need to require temperature checks, and businesses can reopen only if they fumigate and decontaminate their offices, enable social distancing and offer hand sanitizer and hand washing.

On Monday, Buhari also announced an overnight curfew, mandatory face masks in public and a ban on non-essential interstate travel.

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