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Imo State Government has, in its renewed bid to enforce strict observance of the COVID-19 pandemic protocols, threatened to arrest and prosecute any person that refuses to adhere to wear a face mask and observe social distance.
Governor Hope Uzodimma, who read the riot act in a broadcast Friday evening, announced the setting up of four Mobile Courts, two in Owerri and one each in Orlu and Okigwe Zones, to try those who treat with levity, the protocols on COVID-19 pandemic preventive measures. While wondering why Imo people have refused to adhere strictly to the COVID-19 safety protocols of wearing a facemask, regular sanitization and washing of their hands, and observance of social distancing, the Governor, however, warned that the Government would issue an Executive Order, making it compulsory for all Imo people to wear a face mask and will henceforth be enforced with unwavering determination.
His words: ‘Imo State COVID-19 Committee and relevant agencies in the Ministry of Health, have been empowered to arrest and prosecute anyone seen in public without a face mask. Such offenders when convicted, would be liable to a maximum jail term of six months or N20,000 in lieu. “In the same vein, the Executive Order further provides that any gathering of more than 50 persons anywhere in the state, is an offense. The conveners of such gatherings also risk six months in prison or N20,000 in lieu.
‘All hotels, eateries, supermarkets, and stores are by the Executive Order, compelled to provide hand sanitizers, wash handstands, test the temperature of their customers, and insist on a face mask before admitting them into their premises. Failure to adhere to these directives, such as stores, hotels, eatery, or nightclubs, will be permanently shut down.
‘In addition, the proprietors will be prosecuted. These measures, equally apply to all forms of religious gatherings, marriages, funerals and markets.’
The Governor reiterated the earlier warning that no one would be allowed to enter any public building in the state without wearing a facemask, adding that ‘heads of Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, have been directed to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are strictly observed in their offices and businesses with the public.’ Uzodimma further warned that if the people continue to take the directives for granted, he will have no choice but to authorize a second lockdown of the state. On the brewing labor unrest in the state, Governor Uzodimma reassured Imo workers of the Government’s determination to continue to make their welfare top priority.
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