Lagos State Government, on Tuesday, took more restrictive measures to break the cycle of transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu directed all markets and stores trading in non-essential commodities to close for seven days.
The directive takes effect from Thursday, March 26. The directives, the Governor said, did not affect pharmacy shops and all markets where foodstuffs are traded. Eateries and restaurants must not accept eat-in customers; they are to serve food in takeaway packages, the Governor said.
Also, the Governor reduced the number of people that must participate in a public gathering at any given time from 50 to 25.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that he had instructed the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Kazeem Alogba, to close all High and Magistrate courts across the State from Thursday to support the efforts being made to stop the epidemic.
Other public places shut by the Government include parks, playgrounds and recreational centres within the State, regardless of ownership. In a televised briefing after State’s Security Council meeting held at the State House in Marina, Sawno-Olu said the restrictive measures were necessary, given the rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Lagos. He said the directive should not be seen a lockdown on business activities in the State.
Sanwo-Olu said the Government would be opening markets in schools across the State where food items could be purchased in the restrictive period to prevent panic buying. He said the guidelines would be reviewed after it lapses for next line of action.
The Governor said the State had been proactive and prompt in tracking, isolating and managing the suspected cases, adding that the conditions of all confirmed cases were stable at the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Yaba.
He said: “Today, we are taking further measures and giving new directives and guidelines to stop the spread of coronavirus in our State. All open markets and stores are directed to close for seven days, except for sellers of food and medicines, medical equipment and other essential life-saving products. For those that fall into the aforementioned categories, it is imperative that they observe necessary precautionary measures of social distancing.
“The Chief Judge of Lagos has been directed to ensure that all Magistrate and High Courts in the State close immediately to the public and suspend all court sittings. As may be possible, all essential services should be transacted electronically.
“Also, all public parks, including those in private and residential estates, swimming pools, gyms, beauty salons, and all such public places are expected to shut down at this time, until further notice.”
The Governor urged inter-state commuters, either by air or road, to refrain from travel this period. This, he said, falls within the Federal Government’s guidelines.
“As much as possible, let us all refrain from inter-state travelling of any kind until the worst of the crisis is behind us,” he said.
Sanwo-Olu advised the organised private sector to take drastic steps as done by the Government of the public sector and allow non-essential workers to work from home.
Banks and other financial institutions, Sanwo-Olu advised, must prioritise online channels for their services to the public, saying only essential and key senior staff should be allowed to work in the office during restriction period. The Governor said anyone caught flouting the new directives, as well as the previous guidelines, would face the full wrath of the law.
He said: “Law enforcement agencies and other relevant Lagos State protection agencies have been given clear orders to deal with recalcitrant offenders. We will not relent in ensuring strict compliance with our directives.