It’s cheery news in Lagos State. A period of general decrease in confirmed positive cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been recorded in the State for the second week.
Following the decline in positive cases, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has relaxed some of the lockdown measures taken by the State Government in response to the spread of the pandemic.
In his 17th briefing on COVID-19 response held at the State House in Marina on Saturday, the Governor directed the re-opening of places of worship in the State, starting from August 7 for mosques and August 9 for churches.
The Governor also directed the re-opening of social clubs with registered trustees and recreational centres from August 14, but with the condition that they obtain a provisional safety compliance certificate from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC).
Besides, Sanwo-Olu relaxed the public gathering regulation, increasing the permissible capacity from 20 to 50 persons at a given period. Night clubs, entertainment centres and cinemas to remain closed, the Governor ordered.
From August 14, restaurants can now resume in-dining services, but at 50 per cent occupancy capacity. Also, safety clearance must be obtained from the Safety Commission before resuming the in-dining services.
In the case of places of worship, only regular services or religious gatherings are permitted. Night Vigils and other non-regular events remain prohibited until further notice. Also, attendees of over the age of 65 years are strongly discouraged from attending worship centres, the Governor said, adding that all worship centres must adhere to face mask guideline.
The Governor said the new development followed a careful review of emerging positive events, stressing the decisions to relax the lockdown measures was to create a balance between competing demands of safeguarding lives of the residents and preserving their means of livelihoods.
He said: “Having carefully reviewed the current scenario in Lagos, we have taken some important decisions in line with the ongoing objective of calibrating an effective balance between the competing demands of safeguarding lives and enabling livelihoods.
“Places of worship in Lagos will be allowed to open from Friday, August 7, for our Muslim worshippers, and Sunday, August 9, for Christian worshippers, but only at 50 per cent of their regular capacity. Worship centres whose main worship period falls on Saturdays are equally permitted to hold their services, subject to the same guidelines as churches holding services on Sundays.
“Social clubs and recreational centers will also be allowed to open from August 14, on the condition that they have applied for and obtained a Provisional safety compliance certificate via registration on LSSC website. The clearance certificates are at this time being issued only to social clubs with registered trustees.
“Restaurants will now be permitted to open for in-dining services, from August 14, on the condition that they maintain a 50 per cent occupancy capacity. The restaurants must obtained a provisional safety compliance certificate through the LSSC registration portal. We are also increasing the permissible capacity for public gatherings from 20 to 50 persons. This applies to a wide range of events, from funerals, social events to corporate meetings.”
All the mandatory prevention and control measures issued by the State Government must be strictly adhered to, including physical distancing, mandatory temperature checks and use of masks in public places, regular disinfection of premises, and strong personal hygiene.
Worship centres and social clubs that re-open without complying with the mandatory hygienic protocols and physical distancing requirements will be shut down and face the wrath of the law, the Governor warned.
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government patterned its response strategy after Mumbai, an India populous city that share similar demographic and climatic conditions with Lagos. He observed that Lagos had recorded similar results and successes with Mumbai in its COVID-19 response.
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the State Government, on Friday night, shut the Eti-Osa isolation centre, adding that the Agidingbi isolation centre will also be shut for the relocation of patients to a large capacity Centre in Anthony area, which will be soon commissioned.
He added that the Government had activated a process of reverting the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) in Yaba to its status as a care centre to cater to all forms of infectious diseases. The tent built by Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) at IDH premises will remain strictly for management of COVID-19 cases, Sanwo-Olu buttressed.
He said: “We have run through a model that shows that we have built excess isolation capacity over the last five months. We have to come to a stage where we need to balance the economics of risk, as to which isolation facility should we need to keep running. Some of the isolation centres are having less than 20 per cent of their occupancy capacities. This is why we concluded to shut Eti-Osa facility and another one in Lekki.”
In the coming days, the Governor said the opening hours for food and non-food markets may be extended to 5pm on their opening days.
Sanwo-Olu said secondary schools should re-open as earlier communicated by the Ministry of Education, from August 3, for Exit Classes only – SSS3 and Technical Studies III (TEC 3)students only.
This, he said, will allow them to have two-week preparation period to participate in revision classes in preparation for the West African Examinations (WAEC). The Governor said all standard precautions must be put in place by school authorities to protect the students.
Sanwo-Olu urged compliance to the measures outlined in the new regulations, stressing that LSSC has a statutory responsibility to monitor the activities and operations of all organisations and worship centres that have been permitted to re-open.
He said: “As I always say, people need to take responsibility for themselves and their loved ones. Self-regulation is the order of the day, and no one should wait for the government to regulate them or their conduct, even though we will be doing so. Everyone of us must take up the responsibility and ensure that we are self-regulating ourselves in our interest and that of our loved ones.”