South Africa restaurateurs protested on Wednesday against a coronavirus curfew and an alcohol ban that they said were wrecking their industry.
President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a lockdown in March, restricting movement and gatherings.
He loosened some of the restrictions in June, allowing restaurants to reopen, initially for take-out and then for sit-down dining.
But last week, as numbers of infections surged, he brought back a night time curfew that starts at 1900 GMT, and banned afresh the sale of alcohol.
“What the government has put in place has been knee-capping,” Sean Barber, founder of the Rockets chain of restaurants, told AFP.
“It has literally wiped out our dinner trade. It’s decimating our industry,” he said.
Waving a placard with the inscription “#JobsSaveLives”, 32-year-old waiter Divine Moyo remarked “open we are, but normal is not the case”.
Many patrons were still sceptical about dining out, but lockdown measures have added to the eateries’ woes.
“It’s just been quiet,” lamented Moyo. “I’m going to bed hungry, my family is struggling.”
In Cape Town, a city popular with tourists, restaurant owners laid out rows of empty tables and chairs along pavements or in the middle of streets in what they dubbed a “One Million Seats on the Streets” demonstration.
The industry employs an estimated 800,000 people.
Restaurant Association of South Africa CEO Wendy Alberts said nearly a third of restaurants had already shuttered since the onset of lockdown and more closures were looming.
Her members want the government to urgently consider “lifting the liquor ban, having the curfew lifted”, among other demands.
“We want them (government) to consider just giving us a glass or two of wine with a main meal ordered. We want them to take the curfew away, (and) to allow us to just let our businesses to survive this,” said Jo-Ann Hinis, co-owner of Espresso cafe and bistro in Johannesburg.
Some of the placards carried during the protests read “#SaveOurIndustry” and “No Booze, we all loose.”
Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has announced the suspension of lockdown earlier declared in the state to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Governor Ganduje made the announcement on Thursday while giving an update on the outbreak of COVID-19 in the state.
He also banned street hawking and begging, adding that it was compulsory for residents to wear face masks in public places.
The governor declared that final year students could resume school while all civil servants from Grade Level 12 should resume work from Monday next week.
He explained that the workers would be in the office from 9am to 2pm, noting that it was necessary to ensure the full opening of the state economy following the significant reduction in recorded cases of COVID-19.
Governor Ganduje, however, warned that the government would not hesitate to punish residents who fail to comply with the face mask policy.
He also advised people older than 55 years to stay at home, stressing that they were most vulnerable to the virus.
Kano State has been on lockdown since April 17 after the positive COVID-19 cases witnessed a significant rise.
The Lagos State government is considering the full reopening of the critical sectors of its economy, following the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who revealed this on Sunday, however, stated that the move would not be pushed in a hurry.
He spoke to reporters at the end of the State’s Security Council meeting which held at the State House in Marina, Lagos.
The governor disclosed that the government would launch an initiative soon, as part of the plans to enable it assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.
He explained that officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would be visiting restaurants, companies, and religious houses among others to assess their level of readiness.
A Permanent Lockdown?
Governor Sanwo-Olu admitted that with the size of the state’s economy and the number of businesses that operate in its domain, the government could not afford to keep people and businesses on lockdown permanently.
He said, “We are at a level where we are reviewing the other arms of the economy.”
“In the coming days, we will be starting what we call Register-to-Open, which means all players in the restaurant business, event centres, entertainment, malls, and cinemas will go through a form of re-registration and space management.
“There is a regulation that will be introduced to supervise this move. We will be coming to their facilities to assess their level of readiness for a future opening,” he added.
The governor believes it is time for businesses to tune themselves to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to how their workspaces should look like.
He stressed that social distancing and hygiene would be fully considered in determining whether mosques and churches can reopen in the future.
“We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see a huge level of compliance, then it can happen in the next two to three weeks.
“If not, it could take a month or two months. It is until we are sure all of these players are ready to conform to our guidelines,” he insisted.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, therefore, urged businesses, religious houses, and residents to maintain the status quo while the state works out modalities for the full reopening of the economy.
The Inspector-General of Police has rescinded an order restricting the movement of essential workers amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
Earlier on Tuesday, Channels Television reported on how essential workers were restricted from moving within Lagos at the beginning of the 8 pm curfew imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to security officials enforcing the order, health workers and journalists could not be allowed to move around after 8 pm.
However, in a statement late Tuesday, IGP Mohammed Adamu said essential workers can now go about their essential duties.
Covid-19: Enforcement of Restriction Orders
All essential workers including Medical Personnel,Firefighters, Ambulance Services,Journalists,etc are exempted from the restriction of movement associated with both the partial lockdown and the national curfew across the Federation.
The IGP directed all “Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commands Commissioners of Police to give effect to these exemptions whilst enforcing the restriction orders.”
On Tuesday, the IGP held a virtual conference, the first of its kind, with “strategic managers” of the police force.
At the end of the meeting, the police decided to implement “strict enforcement of inter-state movement restriction orders” in order to help curb the spread of the virus.
Essential services can move interstate, “but that should be before 8 pm,” Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, said on Tuesday. “Once it is 8 pm, it is a total lockdown. Whether essential services or not, interstate movement ceases by 8 pm.”
On Tuesday evening, the police restricted the movement of essential workers in Lagos. However, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has rescinded the directive, ordering that essential workers be allowed to operate beyond curfew limitations.#COVID19#Lockdownpic.twitter.com/EN0AnNz5Q5
For weeks, members of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 have lamented noncompliance to social distancing measures, especially as the government sought to gradually reopen the economy.
“The PTF has been monitoring the level of compliance with some of the measures and early observations showed lack of compliance with social distancing and wearing of masks,” PTF Chairman, Boss Mustapha said on May 4, the day the federal government relaxed lockdown measures in Lagos and Abuja.
There were also numerous reports of people found in trucks attempting to cross state borders, despite a presidential order that placed a “ban on non-essential inter-state passenger travels until further notice.”
Interstate travel has been identified as one of the major means through which the virus is transmitted in Nigeria. For example, Bayelsa’s seventh case was a doctor who had traveled to Delta state.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) blamed security agencies for not enforcing the restriction of interstate movement, claiming some officials were collecting gratification for free passage.
Against the norm
However, the police’s restriction of essential workers went against government policy since lockdown measures were initiated.
In his latest national address, President Muhammadu Buhari announced an overnight curfew but excluded people who offer “essential services”.
“Specific directives have been issued to security agencies to strictly enforce the measures,” Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, said on Tuesday during a briefing.
“I, however, wish to assure our essential workers, such as the frontline medical personnel, the media . . . that they will be adequately protected; your obligation is to always carry a valid means of identification,” he added.
Restricting essential workers is a risky business, Dr. Alero Roberts, a Public Health Physician, noted on Tuesday during Channels Television’s special COVID-19 program.
“What happens to patients?” She said. “What happens to the lady who goes into labour tonight? Has the Commissioner of Police thought about that?”
As it turned out, she didn’t have to wait long for answers. Minutes later, the IGP put out a statement affirming the need to guarantee the movement of essential workers beyond curfew limitations.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 has extended the gradual easing of the lockdown by two weeks.
The PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced this on Monday during the briefing of the members of the task force in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
He said, “The reality is that in spite of the modest progress made, Nigeria is not yet ready for full opening of the economy and tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority.
“Any relaxation will only portend grave danger for our populace. Advisedly, the current phase of eased restriction will be maintained for another two weeks during which stricter enforcement and persuasion measures will be pursued.”
Mustapha explained that the extension of the first phase of the lockdown ease was to enable other segments of the economy to prepare adequately for compliance with the guidelines, preparatory to reopening in the coming weeks.
According to him, the PTF shares the pains of Nigerians but the future of the country is in their hands and subsequent decisions will depend greatly on their compliance.
The PTF chairman also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved some recommendations of the task force.
He said, “The measures, exemptions, advisories, and scope of entities allowed to reopen under phase one of the eased locked down, shall be maintained across the federation for another two weeks effective from 12 midnight of May 18 to June 1.”
Other recommendations approved by the President include intensifying efforts to communicate, identify, and manage COVID-19 cases; and elevating the level of community ownership of non-pharmaceutical interventions.
The lockdown order in Kano State, according to the SGF, has also been extended by another two weeks.
He noted that the President had announced a phased and gradual easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun States, as well as the Federal Capital Territory in his nationwide broadcast on April 27.
Mustapha added that the President also highlighted the additional nationwide measures aimed at ensuring that the nation’s economy continued to function within the limiting constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SSG revealed that Governor Masari has directed the Katsina and Daura Emirate Councils to ensure that district and village heads stay in their domain to observe the forthcoming Eid-El-Fitr celebration.
According to him, the governor has noted that two-thirds of the COVID-19 cases in the state were recorded within Katsina, the state capital.
The guidelines, according to the commission aim to reflect peculiarities of the Commission nationwide and it covers areas such as hygiene and personal health, sanitation within office premises, distancing measures, and related matters for it headquarters and state offices.
SEE FULL GUIDELINES BELOW:
(A) HYGIENE/ PERSONAL HEALTH
1. All offices of the Commission will be decontaminated before resumption and periodically to ensure environmental safety. Staff of our Facility Managers and INEC cleaners shall be trained on continuous disinfection/decontamination procedures.
2. The use of face masks is compulsory throughout the offices of the Commission, for all staff, visitors and contractors at all times. a. Staff are encouraged to have their own face masks and will be guided on the use of masks.
b. No staff/visitor should be allowed into the Commission without face masks.
3. Hand sanitizers will be provided at all entrances, exits and offices of the Commission. Meanwhile staff are encouraged to have their personal hand sanitizers.
4. Office clerks will be given guidelines on handling/decontamination of mails and files.
5. Funds will be made available to state offices to procure hand sanitizers for use in the office premises.
6. There must be provision of water and soap for hand washing at all entrances and exits of the Commission offices and during all Commission activities.
7. Infrared thermometers must be used at entry and exit points at all offices of the Commission, and proper protocols will be established for the operators.
8. The INEC Clinic and sickbay staff will be provided with and trained on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and early detection of COVID-19 symptoms. Specific guidelines will be made available to relevant staff handling the thermometer at the entrances on early detection of suspected cases.
9. Staff have responsibility to urgently report any suspected case with symptoms of the virus (cough, fever e.t.c) to the officer in-charge at the sickbay at the HQ, or any designated higher authority in other locations.
(B) SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES
1. Workspace distancing of at least two (2) metres should be adopted within offices, in the premises and the Commission meeting rooms.
2. There should be no loitering in the premises of the Commission by staff/visitors. 3. Under no circumstances shall visitors or contractors be allowed into the Commission except on authorized invitation by the Commission.
4. Visitors’ books must be maintained at each entry point and all floors, with contact details of all visitors. Wearing of identification cards and tags shall be strictly enforced.
5. Invitation regarding entry by visitors and contractors should be communicated to the main gate through a dedicated phone line.
6. Congregational prayers in the Mosque and Chapel are prohibited for the time being.
7. Use of canteen and other places of gathering (cooperative society meetings) are also prohibited for the time being.
8. Driving into the Commission should be limited to staff and other Government officials/ VIP visitors who may have been invited by the Commission.
9. The staff bus service is suspended for the time being until adequate measures to ensure social distancing and other safety measures are put in place.
(C) RESUMPTION OF WORK
1. Work hours shall be from 8am – 2pm, and staff are advised to strictly respect the curfew hours of 8pm to 6am.
2. Workdays shall be the alternate days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday (3days-a- week for now) based on the FG/PTF guidelines.
3. All heads of offices (National Commissioners, Resident Electoral Commissioners, Directors, and Heads of Departments/Units) are required to create a rotational roster of duty to limit staff that come to work on a given day to enable maintenance of social distancing within the offices.
4. The number of personnel working per shift at the Commission’s main gate and Commission’s entrances of all the Commissions offices should be reduced subject to consultation with the relevant service providers. This reduction extends to cleaners and other services being provided to the Commission.
5. Essential Duty staff will continue work as earlier approved by the Commission.
6. Only staff that own cars are allowed to resume work.
7. Staff that are resident in distant places and have to commute by public transport should stay at/ work from home.
8. Staff that travelled out of the FCT should remain until inter-state travel ban is lifted.
(D) CONDUCT OF MEETINGS
1. All meetings in the Commission should be limited to key participants and the duration of meetings be reduced to the necessary minimum.
2. Where necessary a combination of virtual and physical meetings should be held to minimize physical contacts; Zoom, Skype, Webinars and other Virtual interactive techniques will be explored and employed to meet internally and with external stakeholders.
3. Commission meetings and other meetings should be held at the Conference Hall or any other outsourced hall where the two (2) meter social distance can be maintained.
4. Wearing of face mask is compulsory at every meeting.
5. Meeting venues must be decontaminated before and after every meeting.
(E) STATE OFFICES
1. Re-opening of State and Local Government Area (LGA) offices will depend on existing lockdown guidelines issued by the respective State Governments.
2. Ondo and Edo state offices should re-open immediately due to the upcoming gubernatorial elections in consultation with the relevant State Governments for issuance of necessary permits.
3. Funds required to meet the hygiene protocols (decontamination, Hand sanitizers etc) will be made available to these two state offices as soon as possible, and to all other state offices as the need arises.
4. State offices should liaise with the various State COVID-19 Response secretariats on decontamination protocols for their respective States.
5. LGA offices should remain closed and open only where/when necessary.
1. All staff above age 58 with underlying medical conditions (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, renal and hepatic diseases,) should work from home.
2. Other staff with underlying medical conditions should also work from home.
3. Pregnant and Nursing mothers should also work from home.
4. Stakeholder meetings should be conducted in line with guidelines on meetings above.
This comes some days after the Federal Government successfully evacuated the first batch of Nigerians stuck abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, 256 Nigerians arrived in Lagos from Dubai via an Emirates Airline flight.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that Over 4,000 Nigerians are waiting to be evacuated across the world back home.
According to the ministry, arrangements have been made for hotel accommodations in Lagos and Abuja, which will be used to quarantine the incoming citizens.
“The hotels have been inspected by the “Port Health Services, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Office of the National Security Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IPC,” the ministry said.
The evacuations have become important as the pandemic continues to sweep through the world.
The lawmaker added that because of the lockdown order issued by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29, the resumption which was earlier scheduled for April 7 was suspended and subsequently adjourned indefinitely.
He called the attention of his colleagues to the constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Federation but could not discharge its responsibility due to the lockdown order.
According to Fulata, the provisions of Order Five, Rules 4 and 5 of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives regulate the sittings of the House from Monday to Friday on every legislative day except when it is on recess.
He explained that the purpose of sponsoring the bill was for the House to provide legislative support to the Executive Arm by approving measures to address the welfare of the citizens during the period of the lockdown and thereafter.
“On 21/4/2020 at about 2000hours, acting on information, operatives from Denton Police Station arrested 95 inter States travellers at Bhojson area, Ebute Metta in seven commercial buses,” Elkana said.
He noted that the buses were impounded while the drivers and passengers were charged to a Mobile Court and sentenced accordingly.
The command’s spokesman added that 211 violators of the lockdown order were arrested in different parts of the state and also charged to court.
On Thursday last week, he said the police arrested 10 suspects for organising a party at Lekki Garden and were arraigned in court on three counts charges and found guilty as charged.
The court, Elkana stated, sentenced the suspects to six months imprisonment and community service, to run concurrently.
He disclosed that 121 other violators of the lockdown order were arrested in different parts of Lagos and charged to court and were awarded fines ranging from N5,000 to N10,000 and two hours of community services.
“On 24/4/2020 at about 0130hours, acting on credible intelligence, operatives from Idimu Police Station arrested 39 suspects in a hotel at Idimu, for clubbing and striptease. This is in total violation of the lockdown order and social distancing regulations.
“Also, on 24/4/2020 at about 2030hours, Enforcement team from the Rapid Response Squad arrested one Suleiman Abubakar, the Imam of Sheik Central Mosque, Mile 12 for holding evening prayers (Maghrib and Isha prayers) in the mosque with a large number of worshippers in violation of the social distancing regulations.
“A total of 288 violators of the lockdown order were over the weekend, arrested in different parts of the state,” the state government said.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in Lagos, Hakeem Odumosu, has urged the residents to continue to be law-abiding, especially during the lockdown period.
He warned against spreading fake news to create panic and recycling old videos on social media with new captions that suggest that the incidents happened during the lockdown period in Lagos.