Wike Cancels Lockdown, Imposes Statewide Curfew
COVID-19: Rivers State Government has cancelled its former decision to resume lockdown of the capital city, comprising Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt local government areas, as part of its strategy to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor, who spoke in a statewide broadcast on Tuesday imposed 8pm to 6am curfew in the 23 local government Areas of the state, beginning from June 2 till further notice.
He disclosed that his government uncovered plans by some criminal elements led by one Bobosky to cause security breaches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai, Oyigbo and Ikwerre local government areas.
He said: “After a comprehensive review of the measures taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the state security council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.
“In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again”.
He advised residents to strictly observe all protocols and measures put in place to contain the pandemic such the regular washing of hands, regorous wearing of face masks and keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people
He said residents should completely avoid touching their faces with unwashed hands and ensure that regularly touched surfaces were cleaned as part of effective measures to contain the pandemic.
But he said: “All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.
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“All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.
“The state task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.
“All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.
“The state task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.
“In addition to providing daily guest list to the police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted”
Wike said all bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas would remain closed till further notice.
He said markets such as Oil mill, Oginigba Slaughter and Mbiama would remain closed adding that all public weddings, burials and large social gatherings remained banned.
The governor said churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities
He asked dealers in Ikoku Spare Parts markets to stop converting public roads to mechanic workshops or risk final closure adding that no mechanic workshop should be found along Ikwerre road as government would prosecute defaulters and confiscate any vehicle being repaired on any public road.
The governor added that private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit their passengers to the number earlier permitted and enforce the wearing of face masks by all passengers.
He said the measures were in the best interest of the state and were required to protect lives, businesses and jobs.
He said: “This also means that, residents now bear much greater responsibility to stop and prevent our State from suffering the exponential and potentially devastating spread of the virus being experienced across the state.
“As 60% of the positive cases recorded in the state are connected with oil company workers, we have initiated a meeting with all the major oil companies to work out strategies on how we can stop this trend and stop the risk this category of workers now pose to the State”.
On the health crisis ravaging Bonny, he added: “Government is also investigating the rumored or suspected outbreak of the coronavirus at Bonny Island.
“Our team of medical personnel led by the Commissioner for Health has visited Bonny Island and collected samples from suspected cases for analysis and immediate intervention should the results indicate the outbreak of the virus in the area”.
The governor said his government intercepted intelligence that some criminal elements led by Bobosky were planning to cause security breaches in the state by instigating violence and burning down churches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State.
He assured all residents that the state government was fully ready and prepared to deal with the situation and continue to guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the state.
The governor implored all residents to be vigilant and report all suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to security agencies.
He said: “Leaders and vigilante groups in our communities are to work with the security agencies to enforce curfew in their localities and arrest and prosecute anyone that violates the curfew order.
“We urge our people to stop the fake news on social media; stop the baseless bickering, the needless blame game, and the seditious rumours that does no good to our image or provide any solution to the common challenges that we face.
“Rather, we should all come together, put our fate in our own hands and work for the common good of all, whether as individuals, families or as communities”
The governor commended all health workers, who continued to put their lives at risk in the forefront of the battle against COVID-19.