From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
It was a thing of joy for women and mostly residents of Port Harcourt and Abio/Akpor as thebRivers State Government on Monday announced the re-opening of all markets in the State with effect from Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
Governor Nyesom Wike who announced this in a statewide, said the markets will operate from 7a.m and close at 6p.m daily, adding that Rumukwurushe (Oil Mill) and Oginiba Slaughter Markets still remain closed.
He urged that as the markets resume business, traders and buyers must operate in strict compliance with the established protocols on wearing of face masks, washing of hands and maintaining social distancing.
The Governor said government lifted the ban placed on markets to increase the tempo of economic activities in the State.
“Market managers must provide for hand washing and use of sanitizers for everyone at the entrance of every market, ensure wearing of face mask and maintaining social distancing.
“Any market that opens to the public and fails to comply strictly with these protocols shall be closed down. The market managers shall be prosecuted while the contravening shops shall be forfeited to the State Government without notice.
“Similarly, Churches can now hold services with 50 percent of their hall capacity provided the leadership can enforce wearing of face masks and washing of hands at the entrance by worshippers.
“The ban on outdoor sports activities at the Port Harcourt Club, Golf Club and the Port Harcourt Polo Club is also lifted.
“Members of these clubs must also comply with the established COVID-19 protocols or risk another closure.
“In addition, all night clubs, cinemas, bars and in-service restaurants remain banned until further notice. The established restrictions on public burials and weddings are also still in force.
“All Local Government Chairmen are hereby directed to ensure strict compliance with the protocols in their respective Local Government Areas.
“We also call on the security agencies to support the State Government to fight against the spread of this disease by enforcing the wearing of face mask in public places and maintenance of physical distancing throughout the state.
“Government has increased the State’s capacity for surveillance, contact tracing, testing and treatment of positive cases in line with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), oil and gas companies that provided PCR laboratories.
“We are also considering the request for approval and certification by some private laboratories to provide sample collection and testing services,” he said.
Governor Wike stated that with the available data on COVID-19 cases, the measures put in place by the State Government are impacting positively on the efforts to control the spread of the virus.
He stated that even though the State presently stands as the fifth most impacted State in the country, there has been a steady drop on the number of new positive cases within the last seven weeks.
According to the Governor, the State can move to a higher level of increased spread if residents do not change their deviant behaviours.
“The deviant behaviour of residents and visitors to the State to comply with the basic COVID-19 rules inspite of repeated appeals from me, NCDC and other well meaning persons is quite unfortunate.
“We therefore appeal to all residents to exercise due sense of responsibility by complying with the established protocols on wearing of face mask, use of hand sanitizers and maintaining social distancing,” he said.
Governor Wike commended the medical personnel and volunteers who have continued to render selfless services to check the spread of the virus.
He also thanked individual and corporate donors who have supported the state and said their names would be published soon.