Can I still buy food? What if I’m sick and I have to go to the hospital? Can I quickly stop by at work for a couple of hours? These are the type of questions that people have been asking since President Muhammadu Buhari announced a total lockdown in Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja. The lockdown is for a period of 14 days as part of measures to check the spread of the COVID-19 in the country, and we understand that people have some questions, so we ‘ve come up with answers to help you out:
Are companies and businesses open?
No. All businesses are that are not classified as ‘essential’ will be fully closed during the lockdown. All businesses involved in food processing and retail are exempted. Because food is needed for survival. There is no clarity regarding supermarkets like Shoprite and Ebeano in the president’s speech, but the basic guess is that only the food sections will be allowed to operate — in theory.
What about pharmacies and hospitals?
The restriction does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in healthcare-related manufacturing and distribution.
What about security companies?
Private security companies are not affected. You don’t want to return to the office after two weeks and discover that your desk and computer have been stolen.
Since movement is being restricted, how are essential staff going to move around?
It is still unclear if there will be government-provided or government-approved vehicles for essential workers during the lockdown, but those who have private cars will be able to move as long as they can properly identify themselves. A work ID will be useful in this circumstance.
But how will they get fuel?
Petroleum distribution and retail entities are also not affected, so the fuel stations will be open. States have all consented to allow movement of fuel trucks and operation of stations during any sit at home action.
What about people who work in the media, can they go to work?
It is advisable for everyone to stay at home. But President Buhari has said workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted.
Will banks be open?
Banks will not be open, but a lot of banking operations have gone online. There will be skeletal services to ensure you can buy what you need.
This lockdown will affect a lot of businesses. What relief has the government provided for those businesses during this period?
Businesses that are beneficiaries of government interventions will receive a three-month moratorium on their loans. Apart from this, no other incentive has been announced for businesses, but the agencies of government in charge of the economy have short to medium term plans for your business — post-lockdown.
Nigeria depends on importation a lot. Will the ports remain open?
Yes. All seaports in Lagos, through which most goods come into the country, will remain operational in accordance with the guidelines. Vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from these ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.
But won’t people’s livelihood be destroyed in two weeks?
The state governments are already setting up special markets and putting in place measures to ameliorate the anticipated suffering. They have promised to distribute food materials regularly. Most importantly, given the mortality rate of the disease in countries such as Spain, Italy, France, and Iran, Nigerians will just have to sacrifice during this period. There are no easy options.
By: Dammy Eneli