By Omeiza Ajayi
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the COVID-19 Health Regulations 2021, with an order that “at all gatherings, a physical distance of at least two metres shall be maintained at all times between persons”.
The president said the action was in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all other powers enabling him in that behalf.
He said in consideration of the urgent need to protect the health and wellbeing of Nigerians in the face of the widespread and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Nigeria, “no gathering of more than 50 persons shall hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50% capacity of the space”.
The president added that the provisions of these Regulations may be varied by Guidelines and Protocols as may be issued, from time to time, by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
According to him, “an offence under these Regulations is punishable, on summary conviction, by a fine or a term of six months imprisonment or both in accordance with Section 5 of the Quarantine Act”.
Other provisions in the Regulations are; “No person shall be allowed within the premises of a market, mall, supermarket, shop, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centres, motor parks, fitness centre or any other similar establishment (hereinafter collectively referred to as “establishments”) except he is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth;
“He washes his hands or cleaned the hands using hand sanitiser approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); and his body temperature has been checked.
“Any person found to have a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius shall be denied entry and advised to immediately seek medical attention.
“Every establishment occupier shall make provision for regular hand hygiene for any person coming into the premises during opening hours. This includes a handwashing station with soap and running water, or hand sanitiser approved by NAFDAC”.
The Regulations added that worshippers shall, where and whenever possible, avoid sharing worship items such as mats, bottles, hymnals, etc.
“It is the responsibility of the person in charge of a place of worship to ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations within the worship centre.
“All persons entering the premises of a workplace or school shall comply with the provisions of Parts 1 and 2 of these Regulations.
“It is the responsibility of the person in charge of a workplace or a school to ensure compliance with the provisions of these Regulations within the office or school premises.
“All banks shall comply with the guidelines, mode and scope of operations issued by the Central Bank and Federal Ministry of Finance as it relates to the COVID-19 response.
“All banks shall develop a schedule for regular cleaning of buttons and surfaces of Mantrap Entrance Doors, ATM machines and other commonly used areas”.