...considers ban on international flights
The Federal Government has imposed new restrictions amid the rising cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in various parts of the country.
The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, announced this on Monday at the briefing of the task force in Abuja, the nation's capital.
He explained that the directives were advisories issued to state authorities for implementation in the next five weeks.
The new restrictions include civil servants from Grade Level 12 and below to stay at home for the next five weeks; the closure of all bars, nightclubs, pubs and event centres, as well as recreational venues in all states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
All restaurants were also directed to close, except those providing services to hotel residents, takeaways, home deliveries, and drive-ins.
Similarly, all informal and formal festivity events, including weddings, conferences, congresses, office parties, concerts, seminars, sporting activities, end of year events, have been restricted to not more than 50 people.
The government also limited all gatherings linked to religious events to less than 50 per cent of the capacity of the facility of use which physical distancing and use of face masks should be strictly enforced.
According to Mr Mustapha, who is also the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), events where more than 50 people are attending should be held outdoors only.
He added that public transportation systems should carry passengers not more than 50 per cent of their capacity, in compliance with social distancing rules.
The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 says Nigerian authorities are aware of the calls to restrict international travels due to the discovery of new strains of coronavirus in some countries.
PTF Chairman and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, stated this on Monday while briefing reporters in Abuja.
He explained that the task force was having discussions with the aviation and health authorities, including the World Health Organization (WHO), on the calls for the restriction of international travels due to the discovery of new strains of the virus in certain countries.
Mustapha gave an assurance that the government would take a position as soon as a cogent scientific basis was established.
According to him, the protection of Nigerians remains the primary concern of the government and it will not relent in its resolve.
The SGF revealed that the PTF would submit its end of the year report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, adding that Nigerians would be kept abreast of developments in that regard.
Calls to restrict international travels were triggered by the report of another variant of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and South Africa.
Among the concerned voices was that of a former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar.
In a statement on Sunday, Atiku explained that the reason Nigeria took "a harder than necessary hit" during the first wave of COVID-19 was that the government failed to heed the warnings of well-meaning Nigerians to shut down the nation's borders as soon as the virus became a pandemic.
The new variant of coronavirus in the UK and South Africa is said to be more infectious than the original virus.
Following its emergence, dozens of countries, including France and other nations of the European Union have suspended flights from the UK.