Rivers Schools Reopen Oct 5

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* Parks, cinemas, restaurants too

Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt

The Rivers State Executive Council has approved the reopening of schools in the State with effect from Monday, October 5.

The council took the decision at an emergency session presided over by the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, on Friday at the Government House, Port Harcourt.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Kaniye Ebeku, announced this while briefing journalists at the end of the meeting.

According to him, all secondary schools, vocational schools, universities and other tertiary institutions are affected by the directive.

He however stated that the council did not approve the reopening of primary schools based on expert medical advice.

Ebeku added that council also approved the setting up of a seven-man taskforce to monitor and enforce the compliance of COVID-19 protocols in the various schools.

The taskforce, he said, has the Administrator of Greater Port Harcourt, Ambassador Desmond Akawor, as Chairman, while the Head of the State Civil Service, Mr. Rufus Godwins; Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike; Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Inime Aguma; Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mrs. Ifeyinwa Nwankpa; and Commissioner for Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim, are to serve as members.

The Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ebeku, is to serve as secretary.

Also speaking, the Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Nsirim, announced the reopening of public places such as parks, cinemas and restaurants that would operate within the hours of 6am to 9pm daily.

Nsirim stated that night clubs and bars as well as Oil Mill Market and Slaughter Market, Oginigba remain closed.

He said that all the reopened public places must however adhere strictly to the COVID-19 protocols or face severe sanctions.

The Commissioner for Social Welfare, Mrs. Aguma, said government reviewed the compliance of citizens as it relates to Executive Order 16 on the conduct of marriages in the state.

Aguma stated that henceforth, applications for marriages must be accompanied with an affidavit stating that there would be no reception.

According to her, a fine of N100 million awaits defaulters of the extant regulations.

She added that local government chairmen are to be held responsible if they fail to monitor compliance in their various areas.

The Commissioner for Health, Prof. Chike, said that council also reviewed issues regarding public burials during the COVID-19 period.

According to him, all public burials in the state are to be conducted in line with the Official Gazette of the state which stipulates that not more than 50 persons are allowed at such ceremonies.

Chike stated that henceforth, families applying for burials must provide death certificates and an affidavit that they must adhere strictly with all COVID-19 protocols.

He said defaulters would be liable to a fine of N100 million, while local government chairmen are to ensure that the directives are complied with in their various areas.