By Auta Obadiah Dauda, Zaria

The Kaduna State government has review the lockdown restrictions, allowing residents to move around from Wednesday and Saturday.

The government announced this at the end of the daily meeting of the standing committee on the covid-19 chaired by the Deputy Governor, Hadiza Balarabe and attended by the state governor, Mal Nasiru El-Rufai.

After reviewing the conditions attached to the quarantine extension announced yesterday, the Standing Committee assured residents that this restoration of a two-day weekly window for movement is part of efforts to mitigate the effects of the lockdown which has been necessitated by the growing danger from the Covid-19 situation in neighbouring states. The meeting noted that the five new Covid-19 cases in the state are persons that were recently repatriated from Kano.

The Standing Committee also approved an enhanced pay package for frontline health workers for whom it has also taken life and disability insurance policies. The state government disclosed that this is in appreciation of the occupational safety issues they confront in containing the Covid-19 pandemic and the commitment they have shown.

The State Standing Committee on Covid-19 expressed its gratitude to Leadway Assurance for offering an insurance package for frontline health workers. The Kaduna State Government is delighted to pay an additional premium to increase the sum assured for the life and disability components of the insurance policy.

The Standing Committee also directed that the enhanced pay for frontline health workers be made effective from April 2020, including the Occupational Safety Incentive. The Commissioner of Health will be communicating the details later.

This week Wednesday, residents wearing facemasks can go to shops and markets selling foods and medicines to restock. The traders, who must also wear facemasks, and their customers are expected to observe social distancing.

However, all markets will be closed after Wednesday to be replaced by temporary neighbourhood markets which commence operations this Saturday. Sellers of food and medicines will be allocated spaces in public schools and other public facilities so that they can serve specific neighbourhoods. Every effort will be made to site these temporary markets within walking distance so that people can pick their groceries and other essentials right in their local areas. The temporary neighbourhood markets will operate from 10am to 4pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and social distancing will be observed during their operations.

This will address one of the main reasons why people commute outside their neighbourhoods, and permit more economic activity to happen in a structured manner during quarantine conditions. Residents are reminded that vehicles that are not involved in essential services are not permitted to be on the road.

The State Standing Committee reminded the public that at its meeting of 25th April 2020, it tasked a group of senior officials to begin contemplating and planning for a post-lockdown scenario for Kaduna State. This sub-committee has since commenced work. However, the five new Covid-19 cases in the state, all of whom are almajiris recently repatriated from Kano, underlines the continuing threat the Kaduna State faces from the increasing Covid-19 cases among its neighbours. Government has to note these dangers and act to contain the possibility of widespread community transmission.

Details of the locations approved for the temporary neighbourhood markets and the rules of their operations are to be announced later.

Persons who already run neighbourhood shops that sell food and provisions are allowed to open daily. However, traders in non-essential goods are advised to remain closed.

The revised Quarantine Orders, due to be published tomorrow, will also detail the categories of persons, professions and businesses that are exempted from quarantine conditions.

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