*Bans church services, burials, weddings, public gatherings
From Steve Oko, Umuahia
A total knockdown earlier announced by Abia State Government took effect from 12:00 am Wednesday morning.
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu in a live broadcast Wednesday morning said the lockdown which was part of proactive measures to prevent the deadly coronavirus pandemic from spreading to Abia State would last for two weeks in the first instance.
Ikpeazu urged Abians and residents of the state to obey the ban on social activities and events that pull crowd so as to stay away from the pandemic.
He banned churches, mosques and religious sects from holding programmes during the period warning that any church or mosque that flouts the order would be shut down indefinitely.
The governor appealed to religious leaders not to hold services in their churches and mosques during the period of lockdown as doing so would amount to testing the will of government.
According to the governor, all markets and public places in the state will also remain shut down during the period.
He however explained that only persons on essential duty like security agents, medical personnel, accredited media practitioners and essential services providers would not be affected by the ban on movement.
Ikpeazu exempted petroleum products /cooking gas dealers , those in the food sector, pharmaceutical/ chemists shop operators, supermarkets as well as those in sectors “critical for our daily living”.
Gov. Ikpeazu said the state would use the period of knockdown to fumigate public places including markets, motor parks and churches.
The governor warned people in non-essential sectors to remain indoors during the period to avoid any confrontation with security agencies who had been detailed to deal with defaulters.
He further explained that traders who have shops in front of their houses could open for business but must ensure they were face mask or be sanctioned.
Ikpeazu who said Abia had not yet recorded any case of coronavirus, explained that the knockdown was part of the strategies to keep the pandemic out of the shores of the state.
He, therefore, appealed to Abians to abide by the lawful directives within the period of knockdown to avoid any embarrassment by security operatives.