The Anap Foundation COVID-19 Think Tank, On Sunday, while commending the efforts of the Federal and State Governments and their Agencies in dealing with multifaceted problems posed for the nation by COVID-19 pandemic, pleaded for the relaxation of curfew and opening hours imposed by the Federal Government to contain the virus. Anap made this plea in a statement issued by its Vice-Chairman, Abubakar, Siddique Mohammed and Atedo N. A. Peterside, CON Chairman.
The foundation recommended that the Federal Government lifts the curfew or limit it to 11pm – 5am (no more than 6 hours) to help ease overcrowding. The statement read “We note the increasing awareness and responsibility of State actors and the renewed emphasis on educating the public on all that is important regarding COVID-19.
After reviewing situation reports from various towns and villages across the nation, our conclusion is that governments must continue to monitor and define the extent to which they will modify partial lockdowns to allow for some economic activities thereby ensuring that the right balance between public health and economic sustainability is maintained.
Whilst the easing and modification of lockdown measures have met with varying degrees of success, we underscore the need to increase the intensity of a sound and effective communication strategy which ensures that the public is alive to the dangers of COVID-19 and its potential for exponential growth if we let our guard down. Unchecked behaviour and violations of public health advice regarding minimising physical and social contact, observing personal hygiene e.g. failure to wash hands frequently and/or use sanitizers and/or wear cloth face coverings in public will lead to the rapid spread of COVID-19. “Around the world, more countries are implementing partial lockdowns and we believe that governments must react smartly and provide greater detail on expected outcomes.
Businesses should continue to allow those who can, to work from home whilst allowing others to resume in the work place provided sufficient spacing is maintained between employees.
Businesses must also assume responsibility for ensuring that clients approaching their premises and adjoining areas adhere to the physical distancing rules. “We note the recent clamour by some religious leaders to allow physical congregation since limited economic activities have commenced.
Worship can take place personally, at home or virtually and we firmly believe that it is not yet time to allow congregational religious activities. Religious and social gatherings, ceremonies and economic activities which have a strong propensity for physical contact should not be the priority at this time”. The recommendations given by Anap for consideration by the Federal and States governments are as follows:
1. Intensification of Behaviour Change Communication campaigns on physical distancing, hand washing and wearing cloth face coverings in public in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
2. Lift the curfew or limit it to 11pm – 5am (no more than 6 hours) to help ease overcrowding.
3. Lengthen business hours and reserve 1 or 2 hours for the exclusive service of the elderly especially in banks and supermarkets in consideration of their extra vulnerability to Covid-19.
4. Businesses must enforce physical distancing of 2 metres between customers.
5. Compulsory wearing of cloth face coverings in public places and public transportation.
6. Continued ban on physical congregational religious activities and other social events and/or ceremonies. Anap says it strongly believes that implementing some or all of the above measures will help in achieving the Government’s objective of easing hardship on the citizens whilst curbing the spread of COVID-19.