Lagos Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has given churches and mosques in Lagos an alternative without which the places of worship will remain shut for weeks and months ahead.
And the choice is: government officials will be visiting churches, mosques, companies to evaluate their preparedness—as in social distancing and hygiene—to reopen fully.
“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,” he said at a briefing on Sunday after the State Security Council meeting at the Lagos House, Marina.
“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 concerning how their workspaces need to look like.
The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and safety commission will 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.”
While he agreed the economic situation could not sustain indefinite lockdown, he warned Lagosians to be mindful of the gradual easing of the initial lockdown.
“For us, it is not to say they should reopen fully tomorrow or any time; there has been a process guiding the reopening,” he said.
That, according to him, will depend on Lagosians.
“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 these players are ready to conform to our guidelines,” the governor said.
Lagos is more or less the religion headquarters of Nigeria, boasting mega auditoriums and hundreds of thousands of congregants who are largely subject to church leadership–not the government.
While the initial lockdown raised questions about the violation of fundamental freedoms the Nigerian Constitution guarantees citizens, this fresh directive may escalate the argument.