By Monsuru Olowoopejo,
Worried by the continued spread of coronavirus in Lagos State, the Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered a total shutdown of all non-food and drugs markets in the state, in addition to closure of all courts, beauty salons, parks, gym centers, gaming centers, swimming pools, recreation centers and other places where people usually gather, stating that the mass closures are with an aim to curb further spread of the novel coronavirus infection in the state.
Sanwo-Olu explained that recent jump in incidence of coronavirus cases in the state had necessitated the implementation of stringent measures to prevent gathering of people which could aid spread of and higher case records of the deadly viral pandemic amongst the people of the state.
The state governor said that the closures were expected to reduce the disease transmission with hopes to avoid a situation in which Lagos’ medical facilities would be overwhelmed by high incidence cases of the infection, a possibility which he noted had to be avoided at all costs.
Speaking through a statement released on Tuesday following the monthly security meeting which was held at the State House, Marina, Lagos, Sanwo-Olu reiterated that the closures would take effect beginning from Thursday, 26th March, and would be expected to continue for one week during which his administration would carry out observations to decide if the closure times would be increased or not.
Stating that the markets to be closed were not inclusive of those who sold food items, medical equipment or drugs, the state governor also urged privately owned institutions to follow the lead of his government and allow as many of their workers as possible to work from home, pending resolution of the health crisis in the country.
He encouraged commercial banks and other financial institutions to embrace online channels of operation so that non-key staff members could be allowed to stay home, thus reducing number of people available per branch and mitigating possible spread of the deadly global pandemic within the state.
“All markets and stores except those selling food items, water, drugs, medical equipment, and other related essential life-saving products are hereby directed to close, effective from Thursday, March 26, 2020, for seven days at the first instance, after which the situation will be reviewed”.
The governor advised Lagosians to avoid all forms of travel either by road, or by air, adding that there was more safety in staying at home and avoiding excessive minglings with other people and that such measures would only hod until the viral pandemic had been put under control in the country.
“We have seen a significant jump in our numbers from 19 as at the last time I addressed you on Sunday, to 28 as at today’s briefing…let us refrain from gatherings or congregations of any kind at all at this time; and where we must absolutely gather, the number of persons in the gathering must not exceed 50 persons. Now is not the time to be meeting friends, planning playdates, planning weddings, or planning any other social event. Stay home and stay away from gatherings as much as you can help it”.
The state governor reiterated that his administration was set to implement the orders of closure and that anyone caught flouting the directives would be punished to the full extent of the law, adding that the state’s law enforcement agencies had been empowered to adequately deal with offenders.
He expressed understanding of the hardships which the closure orders could cause for Lagosians once they were implemented, and urged the people to persevere, saying that the directives were all aimed at the collective good of the state and that the government required the cooperation of its people in order to achieve its goals of securing lives of residents.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank all those who have complied with our stay home order and other directives thus far. I urge you to continue in that vein. Let me also specially thank the road transport workers who have heeded our call on implementing social distancing within their parks and vehicles; as well as the various heads of the open market associations (the iyalojas etc.) I thank you for sensitizing the people in your various vicinities and associations. This is a collective effort and with your cooperation, we will achieve the desired goal of trapping this disease in its tracks and prevent it from escalating into an unimaginable outbreak”.