Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State

Rivers eases COVID-19 lockdown in Port Harcourt, Obio/Akpor

* Oil workers constitute 60 percent of Coronavirus cases in Rivers -Gov. Nyesom Wike

* Allows limited business at banks, supermarkets, shopping malls, grocery shops

* Public weddings, burials, other social gatherings prohibited

Helen Omeghara | ConsumerConnect

Following the earlier indefinite lockdown the Rivers State Government of Nigeria had imposed on Obio/Apkor and Phalge Local Government Areas of the state in order to curtail the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the oil-rich state, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has suspended the total lockdown exercise in both Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas for six days, beginning from Thursday, May 21, 2020.

ConsumerConnect reports that Governor Wike, who disclosed this in a state-wide broadcast Wednesday, May 20, said “residents and visitors of these local government areas can therefore, go out of their homes for their lawful businesses from tomorrow morning (Thursday, May 21) until 8.00 p.m., Tuesday, 26th of May, 2020, when the lockdown will be restored and maintained until further notice.”

It is recalled that the 24-hour lockdown of Obio/Apkor and Phalge Local Government Areas had begun from May 8, 2020, after the governor’s broadcast the previous day, which he described as an additional measure as prescribed in the Executive Order No.006.

The Rivers State Government had announced a temporary lifting of lockdown for residents to restock foodstuffs, medicines as well all opening of shops, supermarkets and malls to the public from Tuesday, May 12 to Wednesday, May 13, 2020.

According to Wike, all hospitals and banks could also open as to provide full services for the public.

While oil and gas companies are required to submit the lists of their essential duties to him, but no ban on the lifting of petroleum products from depots and other receptacle but all other established restrictions under the Executive Order on physical distancing are still in force.

However, in the latest broadcast on the suspension of lockdown in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor respectively Wednesday, the Rivers State Governor said: “It is important to emphasise that the relaxation only allows for free human and vehicular movements and the opening of limited businesses, such as banks, supermarkets, shopping malls and grocery shops.

“All land, sea and air exit and entry borders and routes into Rivers State shall remain closed.

“Similarly, all open markets, motor parks, hotels, bars, night clubs, in-service restaurants and barbers’ shops must remain shut.”

Wike as well stated that “religious gatherings of more than 50 persons remain prohibited. All public weddings, burials and other social gathering also remain prohibited.

“Private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit the number of passengers to two persons only.”

According to him, “the wearing of face masks or coverings in public spaces, including commercial and private vehicles remains compulsory as those who contravene would be arrested and summarily dealt with as the law demands.”

The governor enjoined all residents of Rivers State to continue to maintain physical distancing in every space, including within vehicles, bank premises and shopping places as required by the subsisting regulations in the state.

Those who refuse to comply with these duly established orders and restrictions would be arrested and prosecuted, as usual, for deliberately endangering themselves and the lives of others in the face of this deadly virus, he declared.

Wike stated: “We, therefore, urge residents not to panic even with the increasing number of positive cases, which is only indicative of the expanded testing now taking place in the state.

“Before long, we will flatten the curve, gradually lift the restrictions, restore normalcy and open up the State fully for business.”

Meanwhile, Governor Wike has stated that 60 percent of Coronavirus cases recorded in the state are from oil workers returning from rigs.

The governor disclosed this Thursday, May 21 when the Management Team of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited paid him a courtesy visit at Government House in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, reports Channels TV.

It is for this reason that the “state government has insisted that oil workers coming into the state must be tested to confirm their Coronavirus status,” he stressed.

He, however, clarified that oil remains the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, and that the state government’s actions are not targeted at anybody or organisation.

He said: “It’s not in anybody’s interest to deny people to carry out their official duties. Oil is the mainstay of the economy of Nigeria and without it, we that are in this part of the country will find it difficult to function.

“My concern is that companies should always notify the government of workers they are bringing into the state, so that our health officials can monitor them.

“So all that we are saying is that we should work together. But people bring in politics that Rivers State is difficult, they don’t want any oil exploration, that is because people want to play politics.

The governor commended Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited for the support to the state government in its fight against COVID-19.

He assured that he would ensure that the lives of Rivers people are protected always.

Earlier, Mr. Udobong Ntia, Executive Director of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited, commended the State Governor for measures in curbing the spread of COVID 19 in the state, particularly the increase in testing.

Additional reporting by Alexander Davis

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