Kwara State Government has announced partial relaxation of the lockdown in the state to align with the national policy of gradual reopening of the economy, but warned that the measures do not mean the country is out of the danger.
The measures come as the state began distribution of thousands of face masks — all produced within the state —in a bid to curtail transmission of the disease.
Kayode Alabi, Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, told a news briefing in Ilorin that markets and businesses would now open everyday but in 60 per cent capacity of their pre-COVID-19 operations while commercial transporters except motorcyclists would be permitted to work within the state at varied capacity.
Taxis would carry just three passengers per trip, tricyclists can only transport two persons at a time while commercial buses are to carry 50% of their capacity, Alabi said, threatening a crackdown on any violators.
The deputy Governor said schools, hotels, beer parlours and night clubs remain shut while restaurants are to serve takeaways only.
Sport gatherings, religious and non-religious gatherings, concerts and other social parties remain banned, he added.
“In line with the Federal Government’s guidelines to gradually open up the economy, His Excellency the Governor has directed the Kwara State Technical Committee to come up with modalities on how to gradually return to normalcy from Monday May 4, 2020, while ensuring we respect all safety protocols,” Alabi said.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that we are caught between two extremes as we are definitely not out of the wood. We are caught on the one hand by the need to protect people’s lives in compliance with our oath of office and on the other by the need to not totally cripple the economy.
“Dear Kwarans, we are not out of the wood. Just today, Kwara has recorded three more new cases of COVID-19. That takes us to 14 confirmed cases in Kwara. Of these, 12 are active as we had earlier discharged two. All our cases are stable and in the best spirits. We want to emphasise that one of the three new cases was imported while the remaining two are contacts of our earlier cases. Aggressive contact tracing has since begun. This incident of another imported case explains why we are now deploying military personnel to man our borders while police and other security agencies maintain their hold internally.
“We are proud to say that our strategy to prevent community dissemination is working so far. We thank all our frontline workers for this great feat. We urge them to keep the good work. In recognition of their hard work and sacrifice, His Excellency the Governor has approved special allowances for all the healthcare workers attending to our COVID-19 cases in Kwara State.
“In preparation for the gradual easing of lockdown, the government had earlier directed the production of 500,000 face masks which have started coming in in bits. At the moment, we have commenced mass distribution of over 40,000 face masks and sanitisers to markets, bus parks and transporters, hospitals, and elsewhere. We will continue to distribute as we receive more masks in the next few days or weeks. We call on private individuals and corporate organisations to also produce masks.
“Going forward, the committee wishes to announce the phased reopening of the economy as follows:
• Farmers and related services are to operate under the current Kwara state guidelines earlier spelt out in previous communication
• Strict adherence to NCDC social distancing guidelines (reduction of work force may be necessary to maintain social distancing)
• All workers must wear appropriate face masks
• INTRA-state AND INTER-state transportation of agricultural produces are allowed but DECONTAMINATION of the vehicles should be carried out after trips to States with high numbers of COVID-19 (Lagos, Abuja and Kano)
• Use of Trailers to transport humans is STRICTLY PROHIBITED
• All construction firms and workers in the state should resume work
• State Civil Servants should continue to work from home except for those on essential services or those granted special permissions.
Markets, Eateries and restaurants
• Local markets are to operate between 10.00a.m. and 4.00p.m. Other businesses may open at 60% capacity but must adhere to social distancing and other safety measures
• Everybody in the market should wear face masks
• All shops with clearly defined entrance should make provision for hand washing and adhere to social distancing guidelines
• deny entry into their shops to Buyers without face masks
• Marketers are directed to not attend to Buyers without face masks
• The market associations must control the number of people in the market at any particular time to avoid overcrowding.
• Strict sanitation protocols must be observed before entering the market
• Eateries and restaurants should only operate take away services.
• Interstate travels are prohibited as earlier directed by Mr. President. Violators will be sanctioned accordingly
• Intra-state travels are allowed with the following provisions:
• Taxis may operate everyday with maximum of 3 passengers with all Occupants wearing face masks
• Keke NAPEP may operate with maximum of 2 passengers and all Occupants must wear face masks
• All commercial transport vehicles except Okada may operate everyday but at 50% capacity to maintain social distancing. Violations will be resisted and punished.
• Face masks and the use of sanitisers before embarkment by drivers and passengers are compulsory. All vehicles must also have sanitisers onboard during travel.
Sectors to remain closed:
• All schools are to remain closed until further evaluation
• Sport gatherings remain prohibited until further evaluation
• Religious and non-religious gatherings are disallowed until further evaluation.
• Hospitality services (hotels, beer parlours and night clubs) are to remain closed until further evaluation
• Concerts and other social parties/gatherings remain banned until further notice.”