On Monday, the federal government reintroduced the restriction on mass gatherings after a spike in COVID-19 cases recorded in some countries. This includes an immediate nationwide curfew from midnight till 4am.
Nigeria has so far recorded 165,419 cases of the virus out of which 2,065 have died while 156,300 have been discharged.
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) stated that about 1.7 million vaccine shots have been administered as of Monday.
According to the announcement by the presidential steering committee on COVID-19, the implementation guidelines for phased restriction of movement was issued to mitigate the risk of a spike in new cases, while the nationwide vaccine rollout continues.
The announcement has generated a lot of reactions on social media. Some newspapers and online media had published the development as a phase IV Of COVID-19 lockdown in the country. On social media platforms, #lockdown trended as number one for about 20 hours. Some even alluded to the “lockdown” as a ploy to halt the Eidul-Fitr celebration.
Some of the comments on social media condemned the “lockdown” as unnecessary since the rate of infection in the country had reduced and may cause more economic hardship on citizens.
FG has declared a stage 4 lockdown with effect from 12 midnight 11th May, 2021. Gathering of more than 50 persons is now prohibited.
— Olamide Obe #RIPMum (@olajideobe) May 10, 2021
We must be a joke to Buhari for proposing another #lockdown
— YOUTUBER: Tolani Juice🤍 (@tianabuddy) May 11, 2021
Nigeria declared the lockdown to stop us from flexing Sallah. They will lift it after the holiday
— Olaniyi (@Naiyoopumpey) May 10, 2021
But did the federal actually order fresh lockdown?
RESTRICTION OF MOVEMENT, NOT LOCKDOWN
According to the document issued by the presidential steering committee as part of the announcement, it is basically a phase four restriction of movements and not a lockdown. The measures stated in the document were restrictions on mass gatherings outside workplace settings, with a maximum number of 50 people in enclosed spaces with physical distancing measures; enforcement of mandatory requirements for a 7-day quarantine for all international passengers arriving from all countries, while institutional quarantine for international passengers arriving from specific high burden countries and enforcement of temperature checks and “No-Mask, No-Entry” policy in all public settings, workplace buildings, businesses, places of worship and recreational facilities.
“Access to government and commercial premises should be denied for persons not wearing facemasks; maintain restriction on resumption to work of government staff from GL.12 and below; limit government meetings to virtual platforms as much as possible while maintaining restrictions on physical meetings including official trips, oversight visits and board meetings until further notice,” the document read.
“Event centers, bars and night clubs shall remain closed until further notice; and restaurants to provide eat-in at 50% capacity and provide takeaways, drive throughs and home delivery.”
On general movement, the document states that no formal restrictions on movement within the country, but citizens are encouraged to refrain from non-essential movement and comply with the mandatory use of facemask/facial coverings in public.
OLD ‘CLARIFICATION VIDEO’ IN CIRCULATION
In a statement on Tuesday, Willie Bassey, director of information in the office of the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), added to the confusion when he asked the public to disregard an old video of Sani Aliyu, national coordinator of the defunct presidential task force (PTF) on COVID-19, currently circulating on social media.
In the video, Aliyu was quoted as saying Nigerians should disregard rumours of another lockdown — but that was last year after the first stay-at-home order by the federal government.
It was apparently recirculated to douse the renewed rumour, but Bassey’s statement might have confused some people into believing there would be a lockdown.
“The Presidential Steering Committee (PSC) on COVID-19, wishes to inform the public that the audiovisual clip of the erstwhile National Coordinator under the defunct PTF circulating on the social media, is an old video and has nothing to do with the recent guidelines released,” Bassey said.
“PSC states unequivocally that the recently released Implementation Guidelines is a reissue of the guidelines published on April 27, 2020 and not new as being speculated but to reinforce existing provisions of the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations, 2021 to serve as a reminder that COVID-19 is still virulent.”