By Temitope Akintoye,
The Lagos State Government has disclosed that it is set to begin a structured reopening of the state’s economy, saying that assessment processes would commence in order to determine level of readiness as well as ensure the smooth resumption of activities across the region.
It said that though a total reopening of commercial activities would not be pushed in a hurry, the state was, however, ready to supervise businesses in relevant economic sectors with aim to assess the level of readiness ahead of future re-commencement of service provision.
The State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, revealed that his administration was rolling out a program tagged, Register-to-Open Initiative, through which officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would visit restaurants, companies, and religious houses, among others, to assess the level of preparedness.
Sanwo-Olu, who spoke to newsmen at the State House yesterday, stated that Lagos, being the commercial hub of the country, could not afford to keep its people locked down indefinitely and that, in order to mitigate such happening, it was pertinent that adequate assessments be carried out with aim to ensure readiness and appropriateness of economic revival within the state.
He said that the assessment would pave way for a gradual and structured reopening of the state’s economy, adding that though the process might be slow in achieving, his administration was set to ensure a high level of readiness and compliance before activities are restarted.
“We are at a level where we are reviewing the other arms of the economy. In the coming days, we will be starting what we call Register-to-Open, which means all players in the restaurant business, event centers, entertainment, malls, and cinemas will go through a form of re-registration and space management,”
“There is a regulation that will be introduced to supervise this move. We will be coming to their facilities to assess their level of readiness for a future opening. I don’t know when that opening will happen in the weeks ahead, but we want these businesses to begin to tune themselves to the reality of COVID-19 with respect to how their workspaces need to look like,”
“For us, it is not to say they should re-open fully tomorrow or any time; there has to be a process guiding the re-opening. We will be mandating LASEPA and Safety Commission to begin the enumeration process and the agencies will be communicating with all relevant businesses and houses in the days ahead. I must, however, caution that this should not be misinterpreted as a license for full opening; it is certainly not. The State’s economy is not ready for that now.”
The governor reiterated that the assessment process would focus on readiness to uphold coronavirus preventive measures such as social distancing and personal hygiene, especially in religious establishments within the state, and said that such considerations would determine if churches and mosques would be allowed to re-open in the future.
“We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see a huge level of compliance, then it can happen in the next two to three weeks. If not, it could take a month or two months. It is until we are sure all of these players are ready to conform to our guidelines”, he said.
Sanwo-Olu stated that pending the conclusion of the state assessment exercise; businesses, religious houses, and residents were expected to continue adherence to existing movement and curfew directives.
He said that people should maintain status quo while the state agencies worked out the modalities for a full reopening and urged banks, markets, and other establishments to enforce orderliness within their premises.
“We enjoin banks and markets to strictly enforce orderliness in their premises. Elderly people must be given the priority to transact their businesses in banks and markets between 9 am and 10:30 am, after which other younger customers should be allowed to transact”.