COVID-19: Buhari Signs Regulations Making Use of Face Mask Mandatory

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President Muhammadu Buhari has now signed the COVID-19 Disease Health Protection 2021, a regulation which makes the use of face mask mandatory for everyone. This means the use of face mask in public places is compulsory.

It also means 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 except he or she  is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth.

Top hotels and other establishments in the country had already rolled out the COVID-19 WHO guidelines in their facilities  in 2020 but adherence was very poor.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said in Abuja that the president signed the document, yesterday in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 201,  and all other powers enabling him in that behalf; and 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 the country.

The regulations are six parts. Part 1 of the regulation places a restriction on gathering, stating that a physical distance of at least two metres be maintained at all times between persons and that not more than 50 persons should stay in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50 per cent of the capacity of the space.

The second part of the regulation stipulates that 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 “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 and his body temperature has been checked.

It says any person found to have a body temperature above 38 degrees Celsius shall be denied entry and advised to immediately seek medical attention.

It says all users of places of worship must comply with the provisions of Parts 1 and 2 of the Regulations, adding that worshippers shall, where and whenever possible, avoid sharing worship items such as mats, bottles and hymnals.

All persons accessing the premises of a workplace or school shall also comply with the provisions of Parts 1 and 2 of the regulation.

The managers of hostels, boarding houses, nursing homes, correctional centres, remand homes, holding cells, military detention facilities and such centres for care and custody of persons shall also ensure compliance with the provisions of the regulation.

The third part addresses mandatory compliance with treatment protocols. It says that the health and safety protocols and guidelines which are issued by the PTF on Covid-19 on the recommendation of the NCDC shall be binding on all persons.

The president made it mandatory for all public secondary and tertiary health facilities to designate a space or holding bay for the initial triage or assessment of suspected persons with COVID-19 in line with the approved protocol for case management while all public secondary and tertiary health facilities must establish sample collection centres, where test samples from suspected cases can be collected and transmitted to an accredited testing laboratory in the state.

The fourth part of the regulation proposes penalties for those who breach the regulation.

He said that any person who, without reasonable cause, obstructs an authorised official from enforcement of the regulation commits an offence which 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.

The fifth part, which covers enforcement and application authorises the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, and other relevant local government, state and federal government, to enforce the regulation.

Buhari said any officer of the enforcement agencies who fails, neglects, or refuses to enforce the provisions of the regulations shall be subject to disciplinary action by the disciplinary body of his respective agency.

The sixth part deals with interpretation and citation.

The provisions of the Regulations are to apply throughout the country while the state governors may issue Regulations on further steps as may deem necessary.

While shedding light on the Regulations, Mustapha after presenting an Ambulance at the Ministry of Health said the regulations were aimed at dealing with the pandemic

He appealed to the public to cooperate with the government in the enforcement of the regulation so that it will limit government interference with their private and social life.

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