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Published On: Thu, May 7th, 2020

Coronavirus: FG extends ban on flights by 4 weeks

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  • Says partial compliance with standard protocols worrisome

By Ese Awhotu and Miriam Humbe

The Federal Government Wednesday extended extended the closure of airports in the country by four weeks as part of measures to further curtail the coronavirus spread in the country.
This is just as the Federal Government has expressed dissatisfaction over the partial compliance with the standard protocols and new guidelines which include social distancing, wearing of face masks at market places, business environment and other public places among others set up as part of measures to check the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, announced the extension by the Federal Government at the daily Presidential Task Force briefing on COVID-19.
Mustapha, who is also the Chairman of the Task Force, said the decision was reached based on advice from experts.
According to him, “Tomorrow marks the last day for the enforcement of the closure of Nigeria’s airspace to flights.
“We have assessed the situation in the aviation industry and have come to the conclusion that given the facts available to us and based on the advice of experts, the ban on all flights will be extended for an additional four weeks.”
Recall that the Federal Government had on March 23 shut all international airports in the country for an initial period of one month. Following the one month completion, the airport closure was extended by two weeks.
The move was part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus which has affected over three million people worldwide.
However, the government said emergency and essential flights could be operated from any of the airports within the period.
However, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba, Richard Adeniyi Adebayo made the Federal Government’s displeasure on compliance known at the weekly briefing of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) of the Committee on Sustainable Production and Delivery of Essential Commodities During Covid-19 Pandemic.
He said the President, Muhammadu Buhari in a nationwide broadcast while directing the easing of a five weeks lockdown in Lagos, Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) gave clear guidelines on the first phase of the new measures spanning 4th -17th May, 2020 by “imploring all Nigerians to continue to adhere strictly to the advisories published by the Presidential Task Force and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) which include regular hand washing, strict mandatory use of face masks or coverings in public, maintaining physical distancing and personal hygiene, avoidance of non-essential movement and travels and avoidance of large gatherings, restrictions on social and religious gatherings.”
The Minister also urged banks and other commercial institutions to open up all its branches so as to allow customers to be less crowded at banks premises which could risk the danger of infection of Covid-19 as well as compromising measures put in place to tackle the spread of the Pandemic.
Mr. Adebayo further expressed satisfaction with the conduct of security agencies in carrying out their duties by ensuring that Mr. President’s directives of “free-flow and unhindered movement of foods, pharmaceuticals, medical equipments and other essential Commodities across the country” is adhered to.
He further emphasized that the gradual re-opening of the economy issued by the Presidential Task Force prohibits inter-state travels except for the movement of essential commodities as he cautions that Mr. President may possibly restore the total lockdown if the violation of the guidelines continue.
Adebayo also said that observance of market protocols in business working environment, Manufacturing Industries across the country is paramount in containing the disease.
The Minister commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing his Permanent Secretary, Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, as the Team Leader (Technical and Logistics) of the Presidential Delegation to Tackle COVID-19 Pandemic in Kano State.

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