The governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed, on Wednesday relaxed all the restrictions placed in public places in the state, as measures earlier taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Mohammed announced this at a meeting where he conferred with traditional, religious and union leaders in the state, ahead of the coming Eid (post-Ramadan fast festival).
The governor, while briefing the gathering at the Command Guest House, Bauchi, said the state has been able to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spike.
He said at the time of the stakeholders’ meeting, Bauchi had only one new confirmed case. Adding that the state has recorded a total of 225 confirmed cases; 127 discharged cases, 93 active cases, and five deaths.
Against this background, the governor said, “The state government has, on behalf of stakeholders, relaxed the total and partial lockdown from Thursday, 21st April, 2020, in the state when people will be free to come out.
He explained further that the “Government and Bauchi stakeholders resolved to relax the lockdown taking into consideration recent declaration by the WHO that the disease may not go soon and also the fact that other states in the Northeast sub-region have lifted the ban.”
He added that easing of the lockdown will be gradual with lifting of ban on Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers and church services on conditions that “imam and clergies are mandated to ensure full compliance to regulation put in place to enable full re-opening of worship centers; specifically to social distancing, use of facemasks, hand washing, and use of sanitizers.”
He also said the lifting of the restriction order would be allowed to continue on condition that market and traders association leaders ensured full compliance with the safety measures.
He said while the state enjoys a return to normal business life, “interstate travels would still remain in force, schools will remain closed; stay-at-home still remain; the ban on commercial motorcycle operations is permanent, and restriction in the number of passengers by both taxis and tricycles still remain in force.”
Mr Mohammed, however, said the gradual ease of restriction would be reviewed after two weeks when it would be decided whether to open up the state.
He said the 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the federal government still remains in force.
He called on religious leaders and the monarchs to exercise social distancing and reduce the pageantry related to Eid celebration.
“That we are relaxing the lockdown does not mean we are celebrating, ” he said.
“Therefore, their royal highnesses should cut down the traditional horse riding and other ceremonial homages during the Eid.”
Concerned parties have also agreed that as a measure to ensure social distancing, more Eid prayer grounds would be created on a temporary basis, to reduced overcrowding. The Imams have also been asked to cut short the time of the prayers.
The governor announced that a total of 900, 000 masks would be mass-produced by the government for general distribution to the less privileged persons, essential service workers, and students.