Akwa Ibom State Government had announced plans to ease movement restrictions imposed few weeks ago in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, and the relaxation of lockdown order which took effect yesterday, Monday, May 4, 2020
In a televised State broadcast message on Saturday 2, 2020, Governor Udom Emmanuel had said that ” as a law abiding component of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and in line with the guidelines for the relaxation of some restrictions which were put in place to enable us manage the pandemic and determined to open up our economy and put our State back to work again, I wish to make the following declarations:
“The use of face mask by all persons is now compulsory in public places.
” A dusk-to-dawn curfew has been imposed all over the State from the hours of 8pm to 6am effective Monday, May 4th, 2020.
“The ban on religious gatherings, hospitality services, social gatherings, parties, funerals and concerts remain in effect until further notice. All plazas and recreational centres are to remain closed.
” All schools will remain closed until further notice. However, our School on Radio programme on AKBC Radio which has been hugely welcomed and popular will continue to address the instructional and teaching needs of our students until we are able to reopen schools.
“Non-essential inter-State movements remain prohibited except those involving agricultural produce or medical personnel and equipment.
“Markets will be opened three times a week, (Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays) between 10 am – 4 pm to enable people stock up their supplies. Face masks must be worn and social distancing must be observed by all.
“All passengers using public transport must make use of face mask. Tricycles must not carry more than three passengers. Taxis must carry a maximum of three persons (One in front and two behind), and buses must not carry more than two persons per row. All public transport operators must provide hand sanitizers in their vehicles. Also remember that the ban on commercial motorcycles within the precincts of Uyo capital city is still in effect.
“Farmers will be allowed to carry out their tasks and freely transport their food items while wearing facemasks and not be more than three people in any given public transport vehicle.
“Agricultural produce will be allowed free and easy movement across the State – the use of facemasks must be enforced”.
The news of the relaxation order came a big relief for Akwa ibomites and their sojourners who couldn’t wait for the nightmare of stay- at- home- order to be over for normalcy and economic businesses to take it full course.
With this euphoria of regained freedom of movement by the masses, people tend to put up perfunctory behaviours with little to no adherence of keeping social distancing, use of face mask as well as hand sanitizers.
This aloof attribute could only stem out of self complacency of many who justified their doubt of no existence of COVID-19 pandemic amongst the common man but a sickness for the elites.
Worrisome is the fact that, COVID-19 pandemic has not been defeated in Nigeria and in Akwa Ibom State, just few days ago NCDC announced that Nigeria records 170 New Cases within 24hrs, and some carriers of this virus are not symptomatic, the question begging for answer is, are we really ripe for relaxation of the lockdown without adverse effect?
A visit to banks along Aka Road, Abak road, Oron road and other locations within the State metropolis reveals that customers are not observing social distancing practice even as a greater percentage of persons do not adhere to the compulsory use of face mask in public places, Akpan Andem market is yet another worse case scenario.
That remains to be said, but for now it is perceived that the easing of movement restriction is a little hasty step in the wrong direction, COVID-19 is surreptitiously creeping into nooks and crannies of the State, let’s be guided until this common enemy of mortals is defeated.