The Federal Capital Territory has ordered a mandatory use of face masks and has created 40 selling points in various districts of the capital to decongest existing markets. The Abuja Market Management Limited is mandated to create the selling points, according to directives issued by the FCT minister Muhammad Bello.

It comes as the territory takes tougher measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 after more than three weeks in lockdown. Under new measures, business hours for markets have been extended, allowing markets in the FCT to run from 8am to 3pm—instead of the previous 10am to 2pm—but only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Managing Director of the AMML, Abubakar Faruk, told a media briefing on Friday, “Even ahead of the take-off of the Neighbourhood Selling Points, the minister insisted that all users of markets in the FCT must use face mask and also observe social distancing.

“To this end, he mandated the Managing Director, Abuja Markets Management Limited, to ensure that existing selling points for food items within the markets are decentralized immediately to achieve social  distancing, even as he encouraged the markets managers to continue to sensitize the markets users on other hand and respiratory hygiene,” Faruk stated.

While urging FCT residents to support the intent of the lockdown by patronising markets in their neighbourhoods, the minister ordered law enforcement agencies  to clamp down on  residents who use the pretext  of going to the market to disobey government directives. “The concept of Neighbourhood Selling Points is aimed at taking pressure off the existing markets in the FCT through the provision of an initial 40 units–adopting either public schools or green areas where they exist- across the various districts in the FCC . “This will further enhance the attainment of social distancing among residents which is a key requirement for eventual winning of the battle against the dreaded virus,” the MD added.