Sanwo-Olu Orders Shutdown of MArkets, Courts in Nigeria’s Most Populous City
The Lagos state government has ordered the shutdown of all non-essential markets and stores for a duration of seven days effective Thursday, March 26, 2020, to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Addressing Lagosians on Tuesday, March 24 at the State House in Marina, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu directed “all open markets and stores to close for seven days, except for sellers of food and medicines, medical equipment and other essential life-saving products.” He added that “for those that fall into the aforementioned categories, it is imperative that they observe necessary precautionary measures of social distancing.” The Lagos state governor also mandated “all fast foods, eateries, restaurants to serve takeaway for all customers, with no in-dining service permitted whatsoever.”
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that “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.” The governor also revealed “The Chief Judge of Lagos has been directed to ensure that all Magistrate and High Courts in the State close immediately to the public and suspend all court sittings,” when possible, all essential services should be transacted electronically.
In addition, Sanwo-Olu reduced the number of a public gathering from 50 to 25 and urged inter-state commuters, either by air or road, to refrain from travelling this period “until the worst of the crisis is behind us.” With these new measures and directives in place, the governor believes it will “stop the spread of coronavirus in our State.” He, however, warned that anyone caught defying the directives would be punished accordingly. “Law enforcement agencies and other relevant Lagos State protection agencies have been given clear orders to deal with recalcitrant offenders,” Sanwo-Olu said.
Similarly, The Market Leaders and Traders Association of Nigeria, Lagos chapter also disclosed that all Lagos markets, offices, showrooms, and warehouses operating under their association will be temporarily closed from Friday, March 27 to Friday, April 4, 2020, amid the coronavirus scare in the country. In a statement signed by Comrade Christopher Okpala, President of the association, Lagosians were asked to stock their homes with foodstuff before the due date.
Although Sanwo-Olu reiterated that these new restrictive measures will not lead to panic buying, there is however a shortage in some food items as well as a hike in food price. Consequently, it will give rise to illegal black markets across the state consisting mainly of costly goods and adulterated products. Additionally, there would be an increase in criminal activities caused by impoverished citizens who are in desperate need of food. The Lagos state government should, therefore, monitor essential market rates and ensure that there is no inflation in price, hoarding, and unavailability of daily items.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Ministry of Health (LSMOH) revealed on twitter that all participants at the African Magic Viewers Choice Award held on the 14th March 2020 at the Eko Hotels and Suites are most likely to have been exposed to COVID-19. LSMOH advised all attendees of the event to observe the 14-day self-isolation and report if they witness any symptoms of coronavirus.