The Rivers State Government has directed the re-opening of all markets in the state with effect from Tuesday next week from 7am to 6pm daily.
Governor Nyesom Wike who announced this in a state-wide broadcast on Monday stated that Rumukwurushe (Oil Mill) and Oginiba Slaughter Markets would remain closed.
He warned that as the markets resume business, they must operate in strict compliance with the established protocols on wearing of face masks, washing of hands, and maintaining social distancing.
The governor explained that the government decided to lift the ban placed on markets to increase the tempo of economic activities in the state.
“Market managers must provide for hand washing and use of sanitisers for everyone at the entrance of every market, ensure the wearing of face mask and maintaining social distancing,” he insisted.
Governor Wike added, “Any market that opens to the public and fails to comply strictly with these protocols shall be closed down. The market managers shall be prosecuted while the contravening shops shall be forfeited to the state government without notice.”
According to him, churches can now hold services with 50 per cent of their hall capacity provided the leadership can enforce wearing of face masks and washing of hands at the entrance by worshippers.
The governor said the ban on outdoor sports activities at the Port Harcourt Club, Golf Club, and the Port Harcourt Polo Club, has also been lifted.
He asked members of the clubs to also comply with the established COVID-19 protocols or risk another closure.
“In addition, all night clubs, cinemas, bars, and in-service restaurants remain banned until further notice. The established restrictions on public burials and weddings are also still in force.
“All Local Government Chairmen are hereby directed to ensure strict compliance with the protocols in their respective Local Government Areas,” Governor Wike said.
He added, “We also call on the security agencies to support the state government to fight against the spread of this disease by enforcing the wearing of face mask in public places and maintenance of physical distancing throughout the state.
“Government has increased the state’s capacity for surveillance, contact tracing, testing and treatment of positive cases in line with the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), oil and gas companies that provided PCR laboratories.”
The governor disclosed that the government was considering the request for approval and certification by some private laboratories to provide sample collection and testing services.
He stated that with the available data on COVID-19 cases, the measures put in place by the state government were impacting positively on the efforts to control the spread of the virus.
Governor Wike commended the medical personnel and volunteers who have continued to render selfless services to check the spread of the virus.
He also thanked individual and corporate donors who have supported the state and said their names would be published soon.
“I am pleased to inform you that, as at today, Taraba State no longer has an active case of Coronavirus infection. All the cases previously reported were successfully managed by our frontline health workers and have all been discharged and they have rejoined their families. No fatalities were recorded in the process.
“Christians and Muslims are also free to resume their religious worships in churches and mosques. In doing so, however, they must ensure the observance of the rule of social distancing and all other safety protocols such as hand washing, use of sanitizers and facemasks,” Manu said in his broadcast.
He added that removing restrictions of movements will allow residents to visit neighbourhood markets, make purchases of food items and other essentials.
The new days for the ease of the lockdown are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 8:00 am to 6:00 p.m, while lockdown remains in force on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“Beginning from this week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are now free days during which people can go out and attend to their personal needs. The time allowed is between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. But these must be done with decorum and in strict compliance with the Covid-19 safety rules. Lockdown remains in force on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
“Security agencies in the state should be much more vigilant. They should work in synergy with Chairmen of Local Government Council Areas, particularly those sharing borders with Cameroun and states with high cases of Covid-19 infection (Takum, Karim –Lamido, Wukari, Kurmi. Sardauna, Lau and Zing) to check influx of people into Taraba State,” he added.
The deputy governor, however, stressed that interstate movements are still restricted and violators will be severely penalised.
He insists that the battle against coronavirus is not yet over, but can be won with unity and collective resolve to win.