Nigeria lifts ban on inter-state travel and reopens schools for all final year students

NIGERIA'S federal government is to lift the ban on inter-state travel as from tomorrow July 1 as it enters into the last stage of the easing of coronavirus restrictions with a wide-ranging raft of measure including the reopening of schools.


Like most other nations, Nigeria went for a total lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but over the last month, it has been lifting the restrictions gradually. Already, markets and shops have been allowed to open and as from tomorrow, there will be freedom of movement across Nigeria's 36 states and certain students will be allowed to return to class.


Graduating pupils in Primary six, Junior Secondary School Three and Senior Secondary School Three will be the only ones allowed to resume for now, however.  Higher institutions, day care centres and other classes in primary and secondary schools, apart from final classes, will remain closed.


Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the federal government and the chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Covid-19, said inter-state travel will be allowed provided such journeys are made outside curfew hours. He added that the mortality rate of Covid-19 had been low in Nigeria due to the age bracket of most of those infected, saying most victims were between 31 to 40 years old.


In addition, Mr Mustapha said the government had approved the safe resumption of domestic flights across the country. He added that the reopening of schools was meant to allow pupils in graduating classes resume preparation for examinations, pointing out that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the extension of the phase two of the lockdown by another four weeks.


Mr Mustapha said: “I am pleased to inform you that Mr President has carefully considered the fifth interim report of the PTF and has accordingly approved that, with the exception of some modifications to be expatiated upon later, Phase Two of the eased lockdown be extended by another four weeks with effect from Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through midnight of Monday, 27 July, 2020. Specifically, however, the following measures shall either remain in place or come into effect


“Maintaining the current phase of the national response, for another four weeks in line with modifications to be expatiated by the national coordinator. Permission of movement across state borders only outside curfew hours with effect from 1st July, 2020.


“Enforcement of laws around non-pharmaceutical interventions by states, in particular, the use of face masks in public places. Safe re-opening of schools to allow pupils in graduating classes resume in-person in preparation for examinations and the safe reopening of domestic aviation services as soon as practicable.”


Dr Sani Aliyu, the task force’s national coordinator, added that transporters must adhere to guidelines that will be released by the Federal Ministry of Transportation. He explained that waiting passengers must maintain social distancing, pointing out that there must be temperature checks.


“If you are not wearing a mask, you will not be allowed entry to the parks and terminals. We also expect transporters to arrange for crowd control. Buses must have a maximum of 50% capacity,” Dr Aliyu added.


He added that gyms, cinemas, event centres and nightclubs would remain closed, just like churches and mosques. Dr Aliyu said that the restrictions on recreational parks/communal sports will remain in place until further evaluation.