Churches, mosques, schools remain closed; okada banned in new Lagos COVID-19 guidelines

•Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State

LAGOS – A number of policy decisions was released on Wednesday by Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, including the continued shutdown of all churches, mosques as well schools at primary, secondary and tertiary levels, as he reviews measures aimed at eradicating the COVID-19 disease, which has continued to rise in the state.

This would be the profile of the easing of the lockdown on the state, which President Muhammadu Buhari, announced would commence on May 4, 2020, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun, all which has witnessed intense restriction of movement, since March 29, 2020.

The governor, whose state, has continued to witness the highest figure of cases, said the measure was based on the need to contain the spread of the scourge, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

Acknowledging that the state remained the epicentre of the disease, with over 800 cases recorded so far and 19 deaths, he restated that the 8pm-6am curfew announced by President Muhammadu Buhari would be enforced in the State, urging residents to comply with the order.

He said, “All Schools and Institutions at primary, secondary and tertiary levels remain physically closed. Students are expected to continue learning on the alternative online and media channels announced by the various institutions of learning.

“All places of worship (both formal and informal) are to remain closed from any form of congregational services or assemblage, until further notice.

“Our Muslim brothers and sisters taking part in the Ramadan Fast must observe all meals and prayers within their homes. In line with the pronouncement of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), no gatherings are allowed for Iftar, Suhur, and Tarawih; and the conduct of Tafsir is also suspended.

The Governor said civil servants within Grade Level 1-12 will continue to work from home, while those on higher grades will be communicated on when to report based on critical needs.

On businesses, he said a window between 9am and 3pm will be given to businesses to operate on a daily basis, however adding that strict hygiene measures must be observed within the duration.

“From May 4, 2020, businesses are allowed to operate within a framework that we call a “Controlled Easing Phase”. Let it be clear that this is not a full reopening of the economy. It is a gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown. We will continue to monitor the public health situation; the economic impact of the lockdown and always adjust our responses accordingly.

“Companies that choose to operate within this Controlled Easing Phase are to operate between 9am and 3pm; and are also directed to operate at a maximum of 60% of their staff capacity.

Sanwo-Olu, however, encouraged offices that can continue to operate online and remotely from the office to do so to minimise any possibility of contracting the virus.

On public transportation, the Governor ordered commercial motorcycles popularly known as Okada to suspend their operations statewide till further notice, while noting that tricycles( Keke) operating in unrestricted areas should not carry more than two passengers at any time.

“All commuters are mandated to wear face masks at all times, sanitize with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after every trip.

“All transport operators/companies are expected to sanitize their vehicles, parks and garages regularly and continuously at least before and after every trip.

“All Transport Operators/Companies are expected to have at the entrance of the respective parks hand washing equipment with running water; and deploy temperature readers to test every passenger before boarding.

“All operators are expected to have alcohol-based sanitizers in their vehicles for drivers, conductors and passengers.

“All motor parks and garages must avoid overcrowding. Social distancing is required for passengers queuing up to board buses.

“All buses should be loaded to a maximum of 60% of full capacity. This means that if a bus normally takes 10 people at full capacity, during this period, no more than 6 persons can be allowed to board at any point in time.

“All Operators, i.e. Drivers and Conductors, are mandated to always wear face masks and hand gloves while in transit and dispose of same appropriately.

“All of these guidelines as outlined – face masks, regular disinfection, hand-washing equipment, temperature checks, and 60% maximum capacity – shall equally apply to Water Transport Operations.

“In addition, from May 4, 2020, Water Transport Operations will be restricted to the period between 6am and 6pm daily, until further notice.

“Commercial Motorcycles, popularly known as Okadas, are to suspend their operations statewide, except for those motorcycles used for courier and logistics purposes. Tricycles (Kekes) operating in unrestricted areas, must not carry more than two passengers per trip and must ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained between passengers,” Sanwo-Olu said.

For malls, stores and markets, the Governor said all open markets and stores will be allowed to open daily from 9am till 3pm on selected days.

He also mandated that those in charge of these markets and stores will be mandated to observe precautionary measures of social distancing and very high levels of personal and hand hygiene.

“Malls will be allowed to open with the proviso that stores in the malls maintain a 60% occupancy capacity within the stores; while also ensuring that a 2-meter social distancing is maintained between every person and the next, in the store.

“Hand sanitizers and/or wash basins must be provided at all entry points, and temperature checks must be carried out.

“Eateries and restaurants will be allowed to open daily between 9am and 3pm, but only take-out and delivery services will be permitted. In-dining services are not allowed,” he said.

He added that he will inaugurate a Committee comprising representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Private Transport Operators, Nigeria Employers’
Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce & Industry; Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.

“This Committee will be charged with the responsibility of communicating, to their members, this framework I have outlined above, on the controlled easing of the Lockdown, so that we all fully understand what is expected from us. We are mindful of the fact that the success of the implementation will be determined by how well it is communicated to all the Stakeholders, and this Committee will play a critical role in this regard.”

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