COVID-19: Obaseki Shuts down Edo, Invokes Quarantine Act






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*Ratifies closure of markets, schools, ban on movement, others

*Hoarding, price hikes now an offence

The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has signed the Quarantine Regulations made pursuant to Section 8 of the Quarantine Act, the Public Health Law and other legislations, as the state firms up its response framework to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state.

Entitled ‘Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulations 2020’, the regulation gives legal sanctions to the response actions of the Edo State Government to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regulation, which was made available to journalists in Benin City, bestows on the governor powers to “direct the restriction of movement within, into, or out of the Local Area, particularly, the movement of persons, vehicles, aircraft, and watercraft on waterways within the local area save for transportation or movement of essential supplies such as food, water, pharmaceutical products, medical supplies and medicines, and any other essential supplies as the Governor may deem appropriate.

“It also regulates the movement for the purposes of procuring essential supplies such as food, water, pharmaceutical products and medical supplies, and any other essential supplies as the Governor may deem necessary; and movement of essential services personnel.”

In relation to events, public gatherings and premises, the regulation empowers the governor to restrict or prohibit the gathering of persons in the state, such as conferences, meetings, festivals, private events, religious services, public visits, and such other events, save where the written approval of the Governor is obtained for such gathering.

Some other powers include those to “impose requirements for obtaining the written approval of the Governor for gathering of persons within the Local Area; order the temporary closure of public places, such as event centers, bars, places of worship, educational institutions, and other such public places where gathering of persons occur within the Local Area; and order the temporary closure of markets save for: food and water markets or stores; manufacturers of food and water; manufacturers of pharmaceutical, medical supplies and medicine; pharmacy; and any other place rendering essential services as the Governor may deem necessary.

The governor is also empowered to impose restrictions on the number of persons that may be present in a public place, such as event centers, bars, places of worship, educational institutions, and other public places as the Governor may deem necessary.

In relation to food, drugs and other essential supply chain, hoarding and price manipulation, the governor is empowered to direct that no person shall hoard foods, drugs and other essential goods and services within the state, or refuse to provide foods, drugs and other essential goods and services within the Local Area.

“While the regulation is in effect, the regulation stipulates that it shall be an offence to artificially inflate the prices of foods, drugs and other essential goods and services within the Local Area.”

“It shall be an offence to hoard foods, drugs and other essential goods and services within the local area or refuse to provide foods, drugs and other essential goods and services within the Local Area,” according to the regulation.

The regulation stipulates that “where a person breaches the directives under sub-regulations (1) and (2), the governor may direct the seizure and forfeiture of the foods, drugs and other essential goods to the State, and may in addition, direct that such forfeited foods, drugs and other essential goods be utilized for the purposes of alleviating the supply needs in the Local Area.

According to the regulation, “Any person who fails to comply with a restriction, prohibition or requirement imposed under this Regulation; provides false or misleading information intentionally or recklessly with a view to causing panic or disaffection amongst members of the public; obstructs any person (s) carrying out his/their duties under this Regulation; or does anything contrary to the provisions of this Regulation; shall be liable under the Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 L.F.N. 2004, Public Health Law, Cap. 134, Laws of Bendel State 1976 applicable to Edo State and any other existing law, to fine or imprisonment or both such fine and imprisonment in accordance with extant laws.”
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