•500 worshippers per service; other special services still suspended
•Schools remain shut
•As hoteliers demands for palliative
By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Jimoh Babatunde
LAGOS State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday, modified the lockdown directive on Churches and Mosques when he ordered their reopening from June 19 and June 21, 2020.
Recall that the Federal Government had on Monday, June 1, lifted the ban on mosques and churches in the country, based on guidelines and protocols agreed with state governments. To reopen Lagos hospitality sector is, however, left in the hands of the state government to decide on the appropriate reopening of their business.
Sanwo-Olu made the announcement during a live broadcast while giving an update on COVID-19 situation report in the state, held in Lagos House, Marina.
He said while Muslim services will resume on June 19, Church services would begin on June 21.
The governor said children below age of 15 should not be allowed at religious gatherings restricted to Fridays and Sundays while the elderly from age 65 should stay away from worship centres.
He said: Mass gathering during COVID-19 pandemic, can be of serious public health consequences. And there are documented evidence that mass gathering can increase the spread of the virus. And that’s why we will from 14 days time, precisely from the 19th. of June for our Muslim worshippers, from the 21st of June, for our Christian worshipers, we will be allowing all of our religious bodies to open at the maximum of 40 per cent of their capacity, and we’ll be working with them as being expected with the state Safety Commission.
“But we know that places of worship have different sizes. You cannot have beyond 500. And keeping that 40 per cent maximum capacity is really so important. No matter how big worship is, you cannot have more than 500 worshipers at once.”
“We’ll be encouraging people to have more than one service and to ensure that they keep their premises clean, disinfect before another round of worship can take place. We’ll also be advising that there should only be mandatory Fridays and Sunday services, all other night vigils and order regular services must be put on hold for now until we review our current situation.
“We ‘ll also be advising very strongly that persons below the age of 15 because of how well they walk around, and how they become difficult to hold down, that they should be excused from the places of worship.
“Citizens that are above the age of 65 should not be allowed in into these places of worship. I mean, these are very important points that we need to re emphasize, because of how we see.”
Sanwo-Olu added that the State Safety Commission will not only register but will be going round to check level of compliance and at its discretion stop or restrict worship where they flout compliance.
On primary and secondary schools,. He said they remain shut because government is still consulting with all stakeholders in the sector and will come out with guidelines for their re-opening in two weeks time as on-line classes for tertiary institutions continue.
All other guidelines as announced by Presidential Task Force, PTF, remained in force.
Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that the government will deploy 570 buses on the Bus Rapid Transit BRT corridor and other routes next week saying the buses were yet to be cleared from the port.
Earlier, at a ministerial briefing Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Mrs. Uzamat Akinbile-Yusuf said it was not in a hurry to reopen the hospitality businesses in view of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Akinbile-Yusuf, the state government is not in a hurry to reopen the entertainment sector to the detriment of public health, but must protect the citizens at all times.
“Now that the state government is considering full opening of the state’s economy, additional, detailed and extensive guidelines would still be given by the government once plans are concluded to open the sector for full operations.
“I want to use this medium to call on owners of hotels and entertainment businesses to regularise their facilities with the government for proper planning, documentation and provision of palliatives.”
Hoteliers demand for palliatives
Meanwhile, hoteliers in the state have stressed the need to jettison the proposal regarding the reopening of hotels dubbed ‘Register to Reopen’, instead asked that the state to release reopening protocols for the sector.
Speaking on the effect of COVID-19 on their businesses, yesterday, the hoteliers, under the aegis of Hotel Owners and Managers Association of Lagos, HOMAL, said its members were not willing to be subjected to rigorous bureaucratic and cost-laden reopening exercise.