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By Emmanuel Ugwu
The Abia State Government yesterday announced the reopening of markets in the state with effect from Monday next week following its decision to relax the lockdown imposed on the state.
However, markets would be open for buying and selling three times a week – Monday. Wednesday and Saturday – between 9.00a.m. and 3.00p.m. on the designated days.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Chris Ezem, who is also the Chairman of the State COVID-19 Committee, announced the easing of the lockdown in a statement made available to journalists in Umuahia.
He said that government took the decision “after all necessary consultations and considerations, including advice from medical experts.”
To this end, government workers from level 13 and above with their immediate subordinates have been recalled to their offices from Monday and are to work from 8.00a.m. to 3.00p.m. three days – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – per week.
“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are to function with not more than 20 persons and must provide buckets with taps for running water, soap and hand sanitisers at their offices,” he said
The relaxation of lockdown was also extended to commercial transportation within the state as “commercial tricycle (Keke) operators and all other intra-state commercial transporters will now operate from 8a.m. to 4p.m. daily.”
While keke operators are restricted to carry only two passengers at every point in time, mini buses (oke bekee) are prohibited from carrying more than two passengers per row of seat with all occupants of the vehicle wearing face masks.
The dead would also benefit from the relaxed lockdown as they would now be allowed to be laid to rest on designated days in the month with restricted number of mourners and sympathisers.
“Burial ceremonies in the state are now allowed to hold only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays of the first and third week of every month,” the SSG said.
According to him, only 30 persons should attend burials to be conducted by churches whether on a field or church premises while only 10 persons are allowed for the ones at private residences.
The same protocol applies to burials conducted according to native rites.
“It is an offence to conduct or attend burial ceremonies without wearing face masks,” the Covid-19 Committee chairman warned.
Though eateries/restaurants were allowed to open for business, government insisted that they “must operate only on a take-away basis and close latest by 7pm daily.