COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations 2021
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria on the 27th day of January 2021 in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 4 of the Quarantine Act signed the six (6) part Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Health Protection Regulations 2021 (the “Regulation”) in response to the serious and imminent threat to public health posed by the incidence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2) in Nigeria.
The first part of the Regulation titled “Restrictions on Gatherings” focuses on maintaining social distancing of at least two (2) meters apart and the number of people to be admitted in an enclosed environment. The Regulation prohibits the gathering in excess of 50 persons in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes, in which the number of people must not exceed 50 percent capacity of the enclosed space.
The second part of the Regulation titled “Operations of Public Places” includes operational rules for public places like open markets, malls, supermarkets, restaurants, etc. The Regulation provides that no person is allowed to visit such places except when “he is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth.” Further, it mandates the exercise of good and respiratory hygiene practices at all premises including places of worship; workplace and schools; banks and public transportation vehicles; hostels; and boarding houses and detention centers.
The third part of the Regulation is titled “Mandatory Compliance with Treatment Protocols”. Compliance with treatment protocols is mandatory. Anyone who tests positive to COVID-19 at the NCDC lab can no longer refuse isolation and admission and all public, secondary and tertiary health facilities must establish collection centers where samples from suspected cases are taken and then sent to the lab for tests.
The fourth part of the Regulation titled “Offences and Penalties” enumerates what constitutes an offence and the appropriate sanctions for those who contravene the Regulations. Any person who, without reasonable cause, contravenes these Regulations (individual or corporate) or obstructs an authorized official from enforcement of these Regulations commits an offence, and will face punishment of either summary conviction, by a fine or six months imprisonment or both in accordance with Section 5 of the Quarantine Act.
The fifth part of the Regulation titled “Enforcement and Application” authorizes personnel of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and other relevant government agencies for state and local government to enforce the provisions of the Regulation, including arresting those who violate the rules if they think it is proportionate and necessary.
The sixth part outlines the interpretations and citations of the Regulation.
The efforts made by the government to combat COVID-19 through the use of the Regulation is commendable as it is in consonance with COVID-19 rules around the world. With the Regulations carrying the force of law, it is unlikely that the Regulation will not be enforced and obeyed at all levels as non-compliance attracts punishment. The restrictions and requirements imposed by these Regulations are proportionate to what they intend to achieve, which is a public health response to the threat and effects of COVID-19.
 The Quarantine Act, Cap. Q2 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2010