The Lagos State governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu, yesterday directed that all open markets and stores should close, except for sellers of food and medicines, medical equipment and other essential life-saving products. Briefing the media, the governor stated that for those that fall into the aforementioned categories, it is imperative that they observe necessary precautionary measures of social distancing.
In addition, he directed that high courts, magistrate courts, parks, playgrounds, and other recreational centres within the state be shut, as part of measures to curtail the spread of coronavirus in the state. He noted that these measures would take effect from tomorrow (Thursday).
Sanwo-Olu said the measures by the state government became necessary because there has been an increase in the total number of confirmed cases nationwide with Lagos leading the pack.
He also implored the organised private sector to follow the steps of the public sector by allowing as many workers as possible to work from home. “Banks and other Financial Institutions are encouraged to prioritise online channels for their services to the public; with only essential and key senior staff being in the office during these times.
“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; and much as is possible, essential services should be transacted electronically. 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 stated that all confirmed cases, and the ones that have since been discharged, are doing well and are all in stable condition. Sanwo-Olu advised that travel to and from Lagos, whether by air or by road, be avoided at this time. “The Federal Government has already advised residents of Lagos and Abuja to stay put where they are, and I would like to reiterate this in the strongest terms possible. As much as possible let us all refrain from inter-state travel of any kind until the worst of the crisis is behind us.”
The governor said anyone caught flouting the directives that no gathering should be above 50, as well as all other directives, would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.
Earlier, Market Leaders and Traders Association in Lagos also hinted yesterday that there are plans to stop trading in the state amid the coronavirus scare in the country. The association in a statement signed by its president, Comrade Christopher Okpala, noted that only the living transact business and it was wise for them to thread cautiously.
Okpala stated that it was advisable for their members to also stock foodstuff between yesterday (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) and thereafter close their warehouses and markets temporarily from Friday, March 27 to Friday April 4, as events unfold.
Also, the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON) yesterday urged all local governments in the country to strictly adhere to the directives of the federal and state governments in curtailing the spread of the virus. The secretariat of the body stated: “To complement the dexterity, commitment and professional strides of the Federal & States’ Health Personnel, all Local Government Councils are hereby advised to be engaged in the partial lockdown of Local Government Services while the programme for ‘working from home’ is being worked out.”
Also, as part of the measures to further prevent the spread of coronavirus, especially in motor garages, car parks, jetties and other public transport-related environments, Lagos State government has emphasised the need for all public transport buses/cabs in the state to maintain 60 per cent loading capacity in compliance with the WHO’s social distancing order.
The Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, who disclosed this at a media briefing, said all BRT buses must not load beyond 60 per cent capacity, for now, to ensure that commuters keep social distance and avoid contact, while commercial commuter buses popularly called Danfo are expected to reduce their loading capacity from 14 to 8 passengers per bus to avoid easy contact and spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The commissioner explained that the Abandoned Vehicles and Parks Monitoring Committee would monitor the operations of garages and parks, while the police will continue to enforce the laws on violators. He warned that any driver that goes beyond the regulated 60 per cent loading capacity at this critical time would face the wrath of the law.
Oladeinde explained that a directive has been issued to the Lagos State Waterways Authority and all relevant stakeholders in the water transportation business, including boat operators, to henceforth ensure that their boats and life jackets are thoroughly disinfected before embarking on any operation.