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Easing lockdown is not business as usual

The presidency ordered a 14-day lockdown on Lagos, Ogun and Abuja on March 30. And it went on for two more weeks. By May 4,…

The presidency ordered a 14-day lockdown on Lagos, Ogun and Abuja on March 30. And it went on for two more weeks.

By May 4, it was starting a “gradual easing” of the lockdown.

The lockdown was to keep the public in place while public-health officials traced thousands of people believed to have come in contact with people confirmed positive for coronavirus.

The virus, and the pandemic that’s come with it, has taken a toll on business. Small and medium scale enterprises have been particularly hit hard.

Many are having to cope by maintaining any semblance of function remotely—to navigate the financial and operational challenges of the pandemic.

While business are hit, government ministries came to a standstill.

The logic for easing the lockdown is a compromise between containing and public health emergency and returning the public to their means of livelihood.

Over 60% of the population in Sub-Sahara Africa is employed in the informal sector, often earning a subsistence wage that enables daily basic needs to be met.

This is no different in Nigeria where implementing the lockdown has experienced difficulties due to non-adherence to many of the measures put in place.

The challenge was how to keep the economy going and safeguard people’s health and livelihoods at the same time.

In this, the second week of “easing lockdown”, businesses opening up are expected to adhere to measures put in place to ensure public protection.

  • Mandatory use of non-medical face mask/covering for all persons and physical distancing
  • Overnight curfew from 8pm to 6am. This means all movements will be prohibited during this period except for essential services
  • Mandatory provision of handwashing facilities/sanitizers and temperature checks on entry into businesses
  • Restrictions on interstate travel except for essential services or transportation of agricultural Restrictions large gatherings of more than 20 people outside the workplace
  • No international flights, apart from essential flights

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has updated guidelines for employees and businesses to reflect the new realities of gradually re-opening businesses.

The guidelines also reflect the reality Nigeria faces: community transmission of coronavirus.

Business will need to adapt their practices and ensure the health and safety of employees and clients as they resume work.

They would also have to provide psychosocial support for employees who may be anxious about resuming work.

“In these times, no business can afford to operate without prioritizing the safety of its employees and customers. It is no longer business as usual,” the NCDC has said.

Business owners have a huge role to play in limiting the spread of COVID-19, through the proactive enforcement of simple measures such as physical distancing, provision of handwashing facilities and supporting staff, according to the Centre.

“Ultimately, we all have to #TakeResponsibility in whatever way we can to mitigate further spread of the virus, while taking all necessary steps to protect our elderly populations and those living with co-morbidities such as hypertension, asthma or diabetes.”

For accurate and verified information on COVID-19 in Nigeria, visit the NCDC website https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng/


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