Lagos considers full reopening of economy
• As it embarks on assessment of readiness of businesses
Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said on Sunday that the state government is considering full re-opening of the critical sectors of its economy, but quickly noted that the move would not be pushed in a hurry.
The governor gave this indication while at a briefing after the State’s Security Council meeting held at the State House in Marina, saying that the state government, in the coming days, would be rolling out Register-to-Open Initiative as part of the plans that would enable it to assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.
Sanwo-Olu said officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission (LSSC) and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) would be visiting restaurants, companies, religious houses to assess their level of readiness.
According to him, the state government will be embarking on this move as it could not afford to keep people and businesses on lockdown permanently giving the size of the state’s economy and numbers of businesses that operate in its domain.
“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 workspaces need to look like.
“For us, it is not to say they should re-open fully tomorrow or any time; there has been 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. I must, however, caution that this should not be misinterpreted as a licence for full opening; it is certainly not. The State’s economy is not ready for that now,” the governor stated.
Sanwo-Olu said the government agencies also would be visiting places of worship to evaluate their level of preparedness ahead of the full reopening, stressing that social distancing and hygiene would be fully considered in determining whether mosques and churches can re-open in the future.
“We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see a huge level of compliance, then it can happen in the next two to three weeks. If not, it could take a month or two months. It is until we are sure all of these players are ready to conform to our guidelines,” he said.
He, therefore, urged businesses, religious houses and residents to maintain the status quo while the state government worked out modalities for full re-opening.
Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu disclosed that all the 10 staffers of the Government House who tested positive for COVID-19 a few days back had fully recovered and returned to their beats.
The governor said the disclosure was necessary to further promote transparency in the reporting and management of Coronavirus cases by the state government.
Sanwo-Olu enjoined banks and markets to strictly enforce orderliness in their premises, even as he directed that elderly people must be given the priority to transact their businesses in bank and markets between 9 am and 10:30 am, after which other younger customers should be allowed to transact.
Lagos residents, the governor charged, must not take the easing of lockdown for granted, saying everyone residing in the state must collectively take responsibility for public health safety.
He reiterated that the use of face masks in public places was compulsory while disclosing that the state government had distributed a million free face masks to residents in the last two weeks.
This was just as he promised that thousands more would be distributed in the course of the week.
He warned that those walking in public places without face masks were risking their lives, urging residents to fully comply with public health guidelines.
The governor frowned at laxity observed in the enforcement of the ban on inter-state movements, saying that commercial buses still lagged behind in complying with the social distancing of passengers and 60 per cent load capacity.
“We are not happy with the level of compliance by Yellow Buses despite assurance from their union. We do not want to use force to drive compliance; we want it to be self-compliant. We have also not seen the level of compliance we wanted for inter-state travels. We are seeking collaboration with Ogun State government and the police to ensure obedience to the directive on this,” Sanwo-Olu said.
The governor, however, disclosed that the State’s Whistleblowing Policy had yielded encouraging feedbacks, adding that incidents reported by whistleblowers had helped the state government to further drive compliance in business places.