Sanwo-Olu shuts Lagos markets, parks

By Kazeem Ugbodaga

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday ordered the closure of all markets in the state except food markets and those selling essential commodities due to rise in coronavirus cases.

The governor said the closure of the markets would take effect from Thursday and would last for one week.

Sanwo-Olu, who gave update on Coronavirus at the State House, Marina on Tuesday also reviewed the minimum number of people that could gather at a time to 25 from the initial 50.

He also ordered the closure of all public parks, swimming pools, gyms and others, with effect from Thursday.

Sanwo-Olu lamented that the coronavirus cases in Lagos had continued to grow, saying that the government had  identified other isolation centers across the five divisional zones of Ikeja; Badagry; Ikorodu; Lagos Island and Epe to ensure that “we have a seamless and coordinated approach towards the quick identification and isolation of suspected cases without overwhelming the mainland infectious diseases hospital in Yaba.”

He urged the organized private sector to follow the steps of the public sector and allow as many workers as possible to work from home, saying that banks and other financial institutions were encouraged to prioritize online channels for their services to the public; with only essential and key senior staff being in the office during these times.

Sanwo-Olu said the Chief Judge of Lagos State had been directed to ensure that all Magistrate and High Courts in Lagos State close immediately to the public and suspend all court sittings; and that 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.

“All open markets and stores are directed to close, 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.

“I urge that all 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 traveling of any kind, until the worst of the crisis is behind us.

“As already stated, and I reiterate again, 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 25 persons. Now is not the time to be meeting friends, planning play dates, planning weddings or planning any other social event. Stay home and stay away from gatherings as much as you can help it,” he said.

The governor warned that anyone caught flouting any of the above directives as well as the previously issued directives would be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law, adding that law enforcement agencies and other relevant Lagos State protection agencies had been imbued with the power to deal with recalcitrant offenders.

He said government would not relent in ensuring strict compliance with the directives, adding that with a collective effort and with cooperation from Lagosians, “we will achieve the desired goal of trapping this disease in its tracks and prevent it from escalating into an unimaginable outbreak.”

“These are indeed changing times and we need to act responsibly and with an urgent sense of duty to ensure that we take the precautionary measures seriously and do what is the right thing in the circumstances. I am not unaware that the directives issued thus far have wide ranging effects and restrictions on your personal freedom, as well as your fundamental human rights; however, as you can imagine, the constitution or any law for that matter never quite envisaged the corona virus pandemic, so at this time, the doctrine of necessity is being invoked to allow us roll out these restrictive measures to protect and secure our state and its people.”