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Finally, El-Rufai opens Kaduna, places of worship from Wednesday with guidelines

 …But says, “Schools, markets remain closed.” 

 by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Nasir El-Rufai

Governor Nasir El-Rufai has been ‘opened up’ Kaduna state, after 75 days of partial lockdown, following  the invocation of the Quarantine Act and the Kaduna State Public Health Law, that empowered him to impose the Quarantine Regulations on March 26th, 2020.

In a state broadcast today, Tuesday, El-Rufai paid tribute to the good people of Kaduna state, for their immense sacrifices in the last two-and-half months as containment measures against Covid-19 were implemented.

The governor said that, as from Wednesday, 10th June, 2020, the Quarantine Order will be amended to permit a significant reopening of the state, especially businesses and places of worship.

El-Rufai, however, said that schools and markets will remain closed because at this stage of Covid-19 containment, it is still considered unsafe for markets and schools to reopen.

He nevertheless promised that, “Government will keep engaging with relevant stakeholders on the matter, to determine the appropriate timing and conditions precedent.

“Businesses can reopen, subject to the provision of thermometers for temperature checks, sanitizers or hand washing equipment and physical distancing measures within all facilities. Working hours will be 9am to 3pm daily,” he said.

The governor further said that, “Church services are allowed only on Sundays, and Mosques are allowed to conduct only Friday Jumat services, for the time being, subject to compliance with the safety stipulations above.”

El-Rufai maintained that, transport operators must reduce capacity to not more than two passengers per row and not more than 50% of capacity.

The governor said that the ban on intra-state travel has been lifted, but government officials will continue to control state boundaries to reduce unauthorized interstate travel.

“Within the state, security checkpoints will be allowed only to enforce compliance with the night time curfew. During the day, any violations of the adjusted Quarantine Order – like failure to wear face-masks, etc. – will be enforced by Operation Yaki, KASTLEA, the Vigilance Service and our Mobile Courts,” he said.

According to him, “Supermarkets and providers of personal services, such as hair dressing and barbing salons, can reopen; hotels can fully open, but with their restaurants and bars offering only room service.”

The governor warned that restaurants may all reopen after decontamination, but are still restricted to “take-away” services, adding that “Public servants will be summoned back to work in phases to be announced by the Head of Service.”

El-Rufai counselled that after the opening up of the state, “the next step of staying safe, while pursuing socio-economic activities, is strictly in the hands of each individual.”

“While we require individual citizens to practice personal responsibility, the places where they work, worship or shop and the vehicles in which they travel must also protect their health and safety,” he clarified.

The governor pointed out that, “This requires that all sectors of society understand and discharge their responsibility for safe reopening, including the specific steps they are required to take.”

According to him, government officials had embarked on series of sensitization and consultations with stakeholders in the last two weeks as part of conditions for reopening the various sectors, in order to promote this wide understanding.

The governor said that government officials submitted the draft guidelines for debate at those meetings, “and we have considered the contributions, suggestions and feedback received from the stakeholders in concluding the detailed re-opening protocols being published for each sector.”

El-Rufai further warned that, “Any facility or sector that generally violates the guidelines will be closed down under the Quarantine Order No.2 of June, 2020, that I will sign today for immediate gazetting.”

While urging citizens to take responsibility and comply with these measures, he further warned that, “This relaxation will be reversed in the event of a spike in Covid-19 infections or unsatisfactory compliance levels with the conditions, and total quarantine re-imposed to preserve health and protect lives.”

El-Rufai appealed to people, who are 50 years and above, to restrict their movement, in spite of the fact that restriction of movement has been lifted in the Kaduna state. “As we open up, we advise older people to stay home as much as possible, and avoid condolence visits and attending congregational prayers. Older people above 50 years should avoid receiving visitors.

“If you must receive, please, wear a face-mask and stay two meters apart from your visitors. Younger people that may be infected but showing no signs of the disease can easily infect older people,” he counselled.

The governor promised that his administration “will continue to implement the policy of repatriating almajirai back to their parents to afford them due care and the right to free education.”

He stressed that, “This is an important step in complying with our state’s Child Welfare and Protection Law. We do not regard modern education and Qur’anic education as mutually exclusive. A child can get both without being abandoned by their parents, leading to child abuse, mistreatment and an uncertain future.”

In his summary of speech, Governor El-Rufai pleaded with residents of Kaduna State to “commit to taking personal responsibility,” saying, “Let us honour the sacrifices that have been made to ensure that this opening-up supports the pursuit of livelihoods without risking widespread infection, illnesses and death.

“You have done it for more than ten weeks under partial lockdown. Let us show that we can stay safe in relaxed conditions,” he added. 

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