By Ayo Kehinde
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday signed a law to make it compulsory for every Nigerian to follow the health protocols to check the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic or be prepared to go to jail.
According to the new law, wearing of masks in public is now compulsory with the new order with anyone found in default liable to jail for six months.
The chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, disclosed this while handing over five ambulances donated by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to the Federal Ministry of Health on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mustapha said that the bill, titled “COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021”, is an exercise of the powers as conferred on the President by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act.
“The regulations enforce physical distancing of at least two metres and a regulation of the number of people to be admitted in an enclosed environment.
“In the exercise of the powers conferred upon me by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010 and all other powers enabling me 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 Nigeria, I, Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hereby make the following Regulations:
“The first part of the new regulations imposes restrictions of gatherings and enforces a physical distancing of not less than two meters between persons at all times.
“The part also provides that no gathering of more than 50 persons shall hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which case the gathering shall not exceed 50 per cent capacity of the space.
“All persons in public gatherings, whether in enclosed or open spaces, shall adhere to the provisions of Part two of these Regulations.
“The provisions of these regulations may be varied by Guidelines and Protocols as may be issued, from time to time, by the PTF on COVID-19 on the recommendation of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC)”, the law reads.
“The second part of the law addresses operations of public places like open markets, malls, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure parks, recreation centres, motor parks and fitness centres.
“The law provides for wearing of face masks, hands washing, and the use of hand sanitisers, amongst other regulations.
“It stipulates a penalty of a fine or a prison of six months for offenders.
“The President said that the law takes immediate effect”, Mustapha explained.