THE Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 yesterday announced the extension of the current phase two of eased lockdown by one week.
The chairman of the task force and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this at the PTF press briefing in Abuja yesterday.
According to him, with the extension, the phase which was initially scheduled to end on July 29 will now end on August 6.
“The PTF has continued to evaluate the developments, as well as the level of compliance nationwide, and has regrettably come to the inevitable conclusion that majority of Nigerians, irrespective of status, creed and level of education, continue to live in denial on the virulent nature of the virus and consistently breach the guidelines and non-pharmaceutical measures put in place.
We informed you two weeks ago that the process of submitting the 6th interim report and recommendations for next steps had commenced. The PTF has reached advanced stages of the process.
It has also considered that due to the upcoming Sallah (Eid El-Kabir) festivities which coincide with the expiration of the current phase, it would be prudent to extend by one week, from July 29, 2020 till Thursday, August 6, 2020. It has accordingly secured permission to retain the existing guidelines till that date,” Mustapha said.
Mustapha added that the PTF and the aviation sector were working hard to fast-track reopening of international airspace.
He explained that arrival protocols for passengers on in-bound flights are being firmed up for seamless testing and detection while relevant MDAs will be holding further consultations.
While noting the increasing number of states that had shelved Eid-el-kabir activities, he urged others yet to do so to follow suit.
Similarly, the Federal Government has said it has increased the number of policemen to be deployed on each coach immediately train services begin tomorrow.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, disclosed this in Abuja during the briefing by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
According to Amaechi, anyone who removes his or her mask while onboard the train would be made to alight from the train.
“We have increased the number of policemen on each coach. So immediately you remove your mask, the police will ask you to wear it back for respect. If you refuse, the driver will have to stop. We would shut down train services if passengers fail to comply with the stipulated COVID-19 protocols,” Amaechi said.
He insisted that no passenger would be allowed entry into the train station without putting on a face mask and having a hand sanitizer, adding that government had decided to reduce the number of passengers on coaches from 88 to about 50, which was why the fare was increased from N1,500 to N3,000 for economy class tickets.
He said business and first class tickets were equally increased to N5,000 and N6,000 respectively, insisting that free movements would not be allowed inside the coaches.
Also, Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has advised dignitaries and VIPs to ensure compliance with the airports’ protocols for their safety and that of other passengers during the Eid el-Kabir celebration.
General Manager in charge of Public Affairs at FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, made the appeal in a statement she issued in Lagos today.
According to Yakubu, the authority would no longer tolerate the harassment of protocol officers by VIPs at the airport.
“We will also like to re-state that protocol officers and orderlies of dignitaries will not be allowed into the airport.
“Except they are travelling alongside their principals, as only travelling passengers will be allowed into the airports. Also, dignitaries and VIPs are enjoined to please ensure compliance with the airports’ protocols for their safety and that of others. The authority has put necessary safety measures in place in accordance with the COVID-19 protocols of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Port Health Service. Other operational facilities are also functioning optimally, while our airport security architecture and other logistics have been upgraded and strengthened to provide for the expected increase in passenger traffic in and around our airports. We also advise the general public and intending travellers to make early preparations toward completing their travel requirements in good time,” she said.
Yakubu assured all airport users that Nigerian airports under FAAN’s management were fully ready to play host to air travellers during this Sallah celebrations, explaining that the readiness was part of its commitments to ensure safe, healthy and seamless facilitation of our highly esteemed passengers during the Sallah celebrations and beyond.