The Federal Government has reinstated restrictions on mass gatherings bringing back the guidelines that require not more than 50 per cent capacity in a particular location.
This followed reports of increasing cases of virulent COVID-19 variants in India, Brazil and Turkey and more fatalities.
The National Incident Manager of the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 (PSC), Mukhtar Mohammed, announced it during the briefing by the committee in Abuja on Monday.
This means that gatherings of religious groups, weddings and the likes, have been reduced to 50 per cent attendance, while official engagements, meetings and conferences should continue to hold virtually.
He said event centres and night clubs are also to remain closed while curfew has also been reinstated from midnight to 4am.
Military personnel are to monitor and enforce adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions on public transport including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
The Chairman of PSC and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, said in his remark at the briefing that government has continued to monitor and focus with concern on the unprecedented rising cases of infection and fatalities caused by variants of concern in a number of jurisdictions around the world.
He said the PSC has also continued to rely on data, science and experiences around the world to establish the basis for steps to be taken to strengthen the National Response programme.
Mustapha added: “Since the last national briefing on 26th April, 2021 the PSC has also received the expression of genuine concerns by experts, international organisations, the Africa CDC, Nigerians and other friendly nations over these developments.
“It has also, on the merit, assessed the situation in Europe, Asia, Latin America and the USA with a view to preventing importation of the variants of concern.
“The surge and virulence of the variants of concern has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of persons in India and a number of countries and has unfortunately disrupted the production of and global delivery programmes for vaccines.
“These developments clearly underscore the fact that indeed, no one can be safe until everyone is safe.”
Mustapha affirmed that the PSC considered several pre-emptive measures to be taken to mitigate the likely impact of the variants of concern, should they get imported into Nigeria.
He further said: “This step has become compelling in view of the fragile state of our health systems, the disruption to the vaccines delivery and the lack of compliance with the extant public health measures and social measures contained in the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021.
“The PSC has therefore considered it imperative to re-institute the various public health measures that were put in place under the health protection regulations.
“In taking this step, the PSC requests the state governments to please step up to play lead roles in the area of enforcement and sanctions.”
He appealed to traditional, religious and community leaders to take up more ownership and responsibility for risk communication and community engagement on the virulent nature of the pandemic, concerns over the variants of concern and the need for compliance.
The SGF recalled that the PSC has already issued a Travel Advisory which, he said, took into consideration, the utility of travel restrictions, outcomes of epidemiological risk assessment, factors that aid transmission as well as control measures that could be deployed.
He noted that in the advisory, additional requirements were placed on passengers from India, Turkey and Brazil.
Mustapha regretted that there have been reports of some returning foreign passengers who violated the mandatory quarantine requirement under the advisory by escaping from the facilities.
“We deprecate such violation of the laws of our land and our hospitality. The PSC is awaiting the report of on-going investigations and we wish to assure Nigerians that appropriate sanctions would be imposed on the violators,” he assured.
He remarked that given the challenge of vaccine nationalism compounded by the production situation in India, the PSC is exploring other options to get Nigerians vaccinated.
The SGF informed that as at date, 1,690,719 persons have received their first dose of the vaccine in Nigeria representing 84 per cent of the targeted persons for this phase.
He appealed to states, especially those high burden areas, to push ahead with the vaccination programme.
“Accordingly, the PSC has produced a new Implementation Guidelines being Phase IV of our Eased restrictions of COVID-19 Lockdown in the country,” he stated.
Mustapha said the authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government has fixed the cost of COVID-19 testing, whether PCR or otherwise, at $50 (fifty US Dollars) at all Points of Entry with effect from May 17, 2021.
“This is to ease travel and trade among citizens of ECOWAS States travelling within the region,” the PSC boss declared.