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Lagos releases additional guidelines ahead planned full reopening of economy

…bars workers with underlying medical conditions from resumption at work

Ahead planned full resumption of activities across sectors of the Lagos economy, the government has reeled out what is expected to be strictly observed by corporate bodies and business outfits, which would subsist in the state until COVID-19 completely blows over.

The state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had on Sunday while giving updates as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic, said government was considering full reopening of the economy, but with a caveat that the Lagos State Safety Commission and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would be visiting offices and business premises to assess the level of their readiness to resume operations.

The government began phased and gradual reopening of the economy two weeks ago. However, some critical sectors including tourism and hospitality, sporting, event centres, cinemas, entertainment, religious gatherings are still on lockdown.

A white paper developed by the safety commission and cited by BusinessDay on Tuesday, said ahead of the planed full reopening, corporate offices and business organisations should ensure all staff with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung diseases or diabetes do not resume at work.

“These categories of staff seem to be at a higher risk of developing serious complications from COVID-19 illness,” the white paper said.

According to the government, business organisations are also expected to set up hotlines for employees to report concerns or violation of any of the COVID-19 protocols. In addition, organisations must encourage staggered breaks as well as limit the capacities of their elevators to two persons (for small elevator) and four persons (for large elevator).

The safety commission further insisted that staff must be made to work side by side rather than face-to-face. And for the manufacturing sector particularly, management must assigned staff to same shift teams to reduce social interaction.

“No gathering during lunch or break times which must be staggered,” the government said.

It further noted that companies should increase the use of conveyor belts for material distribution and deliveries on factory floors.

The government also encouraged retail outlets and shopping malls to install plexiglass panels at regular points of contact to further reduce the risk infection for all parties.

“Regular cleaning of panels and frequently touched surfaces like door handles, teals must be carried out.”

It said as much as possible, businesses premises should encourage contactless payment system and keep doors open where possible to minimise contact while markings inside the banking halls should be carried to facilitate social distancing.

Governor Sanwo-Olu had had on Sunday, May 17, hinted of plans to fully reopen the economy.

He said: “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 centres, 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 work spaces 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.”

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