FG sends strong warning to states on reopening schools, viewing centres

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• Says lifting restrictions not licence for carelessness

The Federal Government of Nigeria has sent a strong warning to state governments against the reopening of schools and other social gatherings amid the raging coronavirus pandemic, noting that such attempt poses danger to the nation and should be jettisoned.

This warning was issued by Chairman, Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha during a press briefing in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

Mr Boss said reopening of schools, television viewing centres, stadiums and other places where large gatherings occur poses danger to the lives of the people and could help in the spread of the virus.

It should be recalled that last week, the Kano State government reopened viewing centres. In the same vein, Cross River, which is Covid—19 free at the moment, is also planning to reopen schools. Also, just yesterday, the Oyo State government proclaimed to have reopened schools.

Following these developments, Boss on Monday, 15, June 2020 said there’s a need to thoroughly embark on massive testing and enforce rules of social distancing if the need for reopening those centres becomes necessary.

He stated, “​We have received reports that some states are contemplating the reopening of schools, television viewing centres, sports stadiums and other places where large gatherings could take place. The PTF re-emphasises that it is not yet safe to do so and that utmost caution should be exercised. The PTF guidelines should still be complied with while considering decision of this nature.​

“The PTF, through its monitoring, had seen that Nigerians are not following the precautionary measures rolled out to prevent the escalation of the novel virus. Social distancing, wearing of masks in public places, sanitation and hygiene in markets, motor parks and places of worship are not being observed.

Speaking further, he said, “We wish to re-emphasise that all relaxed measures are still subject to review and advisories issued are for personal and public safety purposes. The breach of the ban on interstate travels is also a point of concern.”

The SGF attributed the increase in the number of COVID – 19 to the increasing number of tests being conducted across the country. The fact that restrictions have been lifted is not a license for carelessness. We may have returned to a new normal but not normal of the past.

“My appeal as I conclude is that where we are now is about individual and collective responsibility that will determine where we are heading to,”  he concluded.

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