Businesses in Rivers State can now open passively as Governor Nyesom Wike has cancelled the planned total lockdown on Obio-Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government areas of the state.
Governor Wike in a broadcast said the decision was reached by the Security Council after far-reaching review of the COVID-19 situation in the state.
Though, no direct pronouncements were made about the re-opening of businesses, the Governor in his address directed that measures put in place against COVID-19 in the state be exercised by, “shops, hotels, restaurants, churches, banks, business places and shopping malls,” which were hitherto barred from opening.
The Governor also said all borders remain closed just as he announced compulsory use of facemasks.
Governor Nyesom Wike, however, warned that the COVID-19 Task Force and security agencies have been directed to arrest and prosecute defaulters of the new measures introduced by the Rivers State Government.
“The pattern of infection remains predictable, as there is yet, any evidence of serious community transmission, although this cannot be ruled out with the increasing number of positive cases; the majority of which, are connected with contacts with oil company workers who imported the disease into the State.
“And so, while we should all still be concerned, since our set goals in the battle against the virus are not yet achieved, there is no need to fear.
“We are totally in control, working hard every day and believing that the worst will soon be behind us.
“In continuation of our struggle against the spread of COVID-19 in our State, we had planned to resume the total lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas from Wednesday 27th May 2020.
“However, after a comprehensive review of the measures we have taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the State Security Council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.
“In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again.
“As we all know, the regular washing of hands, religious wearing of face masks, keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, completely avoiding touching of faces with unwashed hands, and cleaning of surfaces we regularly touch have been identified as some of the most effective measures against contracting this virus in the absence of vaccine.
“These are not difficult measures that should warrant any excuses for negligence, non or ineffective compliance.
“Consequently, we wish to re-enforce our decision on the continuous implementation of the following measures throughout the State to mitigate the spread of this virus: All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.
“All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.
“The State task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.
“All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.
“The State task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.
In addition to providing a daily guest list to the Police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted.
“All bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas shall remain closed until further notice;
“Oil mill market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall remain closed until further notice;
“Oginigba Slaughter market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall similarly remain closed until further notice.
“Mbiama market in Ahoada West Local Government Area shall also remain closed until further notice;
“All public weddings, burials and large social gatherings shall remain banned.
“Churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities,” he said.
Governor Wike assured that report of the possible outbreak of the virus in Bonny Island is being investigated.
Tola Johnson, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Micro Small and Medium and Medium Enterprises(MSMEs), says 100,000 small businesses will get N50,000 each.
NAN reports that the gesture is part of COVID-19 economic stimulus.
The presidential aide made the announcement at the inauguration of the Implementation of Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-Take Stimulus Schemes for MSMEs on Thursday in Abuja.
Johnson, the Project Coordinator, said that the schemes were part of the Economic Sustainability Plan drafted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee and approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Payroll Support targets 100,000 businesses. However, the number of individuals who will benefit from this is 500,000. What the government has done is to say that there a lot of MSMEs that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.
“Afterward, there is a CAC (Corporate Affairs Commission) free registration; it is free for the MSMEs but the government is paying the CAC for this. What the government has done is to say to the CAC, you do this regularly to the MSMEs at about N12,000 or thereabout; give it to us at half price, we will give it to the MSMEs free.’’
Johnson added that under the National MSMEs Clinic, Osinbajo and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment went to no fewer than 26 states.
He said it was discovered that very creative businesses were not registered.
“They will tell you they don’t have N10,000 to N12,000 to register their businesses. The government had promised that at some point, we will do and I think the opportunity has come now; the opportunity cannot be better than now.’’
The official also announced that under the Survival Fund, the last strap would be the Transport and Artisans Support.
At least 333,000 beneficiaries will get a one-off N30,000 grant, Johnson said.
He added that the government will work with associations, individuals and the Ministry of Transportation to implement the scheme.