From Thursday, March 26, only markets and stores that sell food items, drugs, water, among other human essentials would be allowed to operate in Lagos State.
The Lagos State government said the closure of the markets was a further step to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The order came as the number of suspected cases under watch in the state rose to 1,800. Actual confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the state as at Tuesday, March 24, stood at 28, with the possibility it might climb higher.
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) also ordered closure of shops in the markets and neighbourhood centres in the FCT except those who sell essential commodities and medicines. Pharmacies and supermarkets selling essential products as well as bakeries are to remain open but abide by strictly by laid-down measures, according to Muhammad Bello, FCT minister.
FCTA has also begun the enforcement of the stay-at-home policy for all its civil servants on grade level 01-12 till further notice. It, however, explained that all workers from grade level 01-12 on essential duties such as water supply, fire service, security, medical services, environmental protection, emergency services, FEMA, and others are exempted from the stay-at-home policy.
Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the state governor, addressing journalists on the closure of markets at the Government House, Marina, said the decision was to halt person-to-person spread of the virus.
“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,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Sanwo-Ou said 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.
He urged all travel to and from Lagos, whether by air or by road, to be avoided at this time, in line with earlier directive by the Federal Government to the residents of Lagos and Abuja to stay home.
“I would like to reiterate this in the strongest terms possible. As much as possible let us all refrain from inter-state travelling of any kind, until the worst of the crisis is behind us,” he said.
He encouraged the organised private sector to follow the steps of the public sector and allow as many workers as possible to work from home.
“Banks and other financial institutions are encouraged to prioritise 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.
He directed the chief judge of Lagos State to ensure that all magistrate and high courts in the state close immediately to the public, suspend all court sittings, and as much as possible, ensure essential services are transacted electronically.
He 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.
In Imo State, Governor Hope Uzodimma announced closure of all nite clubs and late-night restaurants, adding that from Wednesday (today), civil servants above 45 years would be encouraged “not to come to work because they are the most vulnerable group”.
The governor announced this during the flag-off of the distribution of hand sanitisers to ministries, agencies, markets, churches, schools and other public places in the state.
He, however, said those on essential services would continue to go to work and promised that adequate measures have been put in place for their safety.
In River State, Governor Nyesom Wike is heading a special task force of security agencies to fight COVID-19 at boundary points and public centres.
In Delta State, the government on Tuesday said it has procured dialysis machines, 19 ventilators and several monitors for the management of coronavirus pandemic by medical staff in the state, even though the state has not recorded any case of the virus so far.
JOSHUA BASSEY, ANTHONIA OBOKOH (Lagos), JAMES KWEN (Abuja), IGNATIUS CHUKWU (Port Harcourt), IDRIS UMAR MOMOH & MERCY ENOCH (Asaba)