As Lagos State prepares for the easing of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, scheduled to take effect from Monday, May 4, the state government has issued new guidelines for the reopening of markets and shopping malls in the state, as part of efforts to curb the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting held on Thursday in Alausa, Ikeja, the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr. Wale Ahmed, reiterated that all markets and stores in the various local governments/Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, across the metropolis will be allowed to open from 9 a.m till 3 p.m on selected days.
Emphasising that everyone attending these markets and stores are mandated to observe precautionary measures, such as physical distancing and high levels of personal and respiratory hygiene, Dr. Ahmed declared that malls will also be allowed to open with the proviso that stores will maintain a 60 per cent occupancy capacity at any point in time, while also ensuring that a two-meter physical distancing is maintained between a shopper and the next person in the store.
He maintained that food handlers must also wear masks and hand gloves in markets at all times, directing that shop owners must provide hand sanitisers and wash hands with soap and running water at all entry points, conduct temperature checks on customers and ensure that nobody is exempted from the process.
Dr Ahmed added that the guidelines are proactive measures put in place by the government to curtail a possible spread of the deadly virus among traders in markets and malls, when the gradual ease of the lockdown commences on Monday, May 4, 2020.
Disclosing that stakeholders at the meeting, including the Iyaloja-General/President, General Association of Commodity Market Women and Men of Nigeria, Mrs. Folashade Tinubu-Ojo, and other major market leaders across the state, unanimously agreed that effective from Monday, 4th May 2020, food sellers and other ware traders should operate on alternate days in all markets across the state, Dr Ahmed added, “In essence, those trading in other items and wares apart from food will only be allowed to trade on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while all food and farm produce sellers will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.”
Ahmed stressed that there will be zero tolerance for all forms of street-trading, even as he disclosed that all market leaders have also promised to ensure that their members abide by all the stated guidelines, while the ministry, chairmen of local government councils/LCDAs, Office of Iyaloja-General and the state Enforcement Agencies will ensure strict compliance with the directives.