The Nigerian government has lifted restrictions placed on religious gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
The previous ban on religious and social gatherings was placed on Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial center, Abuja, its capital city, and Ogun state by President Muhammadu Buhari in March.
But during a televised briefing on Monday, the Chairman of Nigeria’s Presidential Task Force, or PTF, on Covid-19, Boss Mustapha announced that mosques, churches, and hotels are now free to open with certain conditions.
Worshippers must wear face masks, maintain social distancing and properly wash or sanitize their hands before joining their congregation.
Hotels are also to maintain the same interventions and limit the capacity of guests they allow in.
Restaurants, bars and other social gatherings are to remain closed. Also, schools are yet to be opened and interstate travel is still banned.
With more than 10,500 confirmed cases of coronavirus as of June 2, the task force on Covid-19 says Nigeria is yet to reach the “peak” of the virus, citing higher cases in Europe and South America.
All decisions made in relation to coronavirus response are based on the thorough assessment of PTF on Covid-19, according to Mustapha.
Some of the recommendations made by the PTF to prevent the spread of Covid-19 as religious institutions and hotels open up include: managed access to markets and locations of economic activity to limit the risk of transmitting Covid-19, mandatory use of face masks and temperature checks in public places, and information campaigns on the dangers of the virus among others.
‘Still a fight for life’
Mustapha says despite easing restrictions, it is still important for Nigerians to observe all guidelines and stay safe to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Covid-19 is still a fight for life,” he said during the briefing. “Our advancement to phase two (of easing restrictions) does not mean that Covid-19 has ended as Nigeria has not reached the peak of confirmed cases.”
According to Mustapha, while making decisions to ease Covid-19 related restrictions, the task force took into consideration the advice of the World Health Organization on the need to improve case finding, testing, isolation and quarantining contacts, which the country is doing.
Other African countries like Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa have also eased their coronavirus-related restrictions.
In April, Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo lifted a three-week lockdown in two cities, Accra and Kumasi, citing the severe impact of restrictions on the poor and vulnerable in the West African nation.
And in South Africa, alcohol is back on sale after a ban was imposed as part of measures to fight Covid-19.
The alcohol ban was in place to allow the police and hospitals to better focus on tackling the virus.
Still, the WHO has warned that as countries continue to ease coronavirus regulations, there is a need to remain vigilant and ramp up testing and surveillance measures to detect any spike in cases.