Vigils prohibited as Lagos govt reopens churches, mosques, social clubs

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*Sanwo-Olu

Schools remain shut save for exiting students

The governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has endorsed the reopening of religious centre as the number of confirmed positive coronavirus infections recorded in the state decreases for two weeks running.

In his 17th briefing on COVID-19 response held at the State House in Marina yesterday, the governor directed the re-opening of places of worship in the State, starting from August 7 for mosques and August 9 for churches.

According to the governor, only regular services or religious gatherings are permitted while vigils and other non-regular events remain on lockdown until further notice.

Also, Sanwo-Olu strongly advised attendees of over 65 years of age to steer clear of worship centres.

More so, he said all worship centres must adhere to face mask guideline.

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).

In addition, the governor relaxed the public gathering regulation, increasing the permissible capacity from 20 to 50 persons at a given period.

However, night clubs, entertainment centres and cinemas are to remain closed.

He also said from August 14, restaurants would resume in-dining services, but limited the capacity to 50 per cent occupancy.

However, safety clearance must be obtained from the Safety Commission before resuming the in-dining services.

The governor said the new development followed a careful review of emerging positive events.

He stressed that the decisions to relax the lockdown measures was to create a balance between competing demands of safeguarding lives of Lagos residents and preserving their means of livelihoods.

“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 Lagos 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 stated.

Sanwo-Olu said the Lagos 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.

The governor also announced some steps taken including the last Fridays’ shutting down of the Eti-Osa isolation centre as well as the planned shutting down of the Agidingbi isolation centre for the relocation of patients to a large capacity centre in the Anthony area which is billed for commissioning soon.

 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.

Nevertheless, he said the tent built by the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) on the premises of the hospital will remain strictly for management of COVID-19 cases.

“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 4 for the SSS3 and Technical Studies III (TEC 3) students only.

According to Sanwo-Olu, that will allow them to have two-week preparation period to participate in revision classes in preparation for the West African School Certificate Examinations (WASSCE.

The governor advised that all the standard precautions must be put in place by school authorities to protect the students.

“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. Every one of us must take up the responsibility and ensure that we are self-regulating ourselves in our interest and that of our loved ones,” he added.

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