…Embarks On Readiness Of Business Assessment

By Vanessa Okwara

Lagos State is considering fully re-opening of the critical sectors of its economy, as COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, says the state governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, who added that the move, however, will not be pushed in a hurry.

The governor said that the state government would, in the coming days, be rolling out ‘Register-to-Open’ initiative, as part of the plans that would enable it assess the level of readiness of the players in the identified sectors for supervised operations.

Speaking at a briefing after the state’s Security Council meeting, held at the State House in Marina, Sanwo-Olu said officials from the Lagos State Safety Commission, LSSC, and Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, LASEPA, will be visiting restaurants, companies, religious houses to assess their level of readiness.

The governor added that with the size of the state’s economy and numbers of businesses that operate in the state, the government could not afford to keep people and businesses on lockdown permanently.

He said, “We are at a level where we are reviewing 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, entertaiment, 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 work spaces 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 the 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 license for full opening; it is certainly not. The state economy is not ready for that now.”

Averring that government agencies also would be visiting places of worship to assess their level of readiness ahead of full reopening, Sanwo-Olu insisted that social distancing and hygiene would be fully considered in determining whether mosques and churches can re-open in the future.

He added, “We are reviewing and considering how the phased unlocking will happen. If we see 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 therefore urged businesses, religious houses and residents to maintain the status quo, while the state works out modalities for full re-opening.

Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that all the 10 staff of the Government House, who tested positive for COVID-19 had fully recovered and returned to their beats, adding that the disclosure becomes necessary to further promote transparency in the reporting and management of COVID-19cases by the state government.

The governor also enjoined banks and markets to strictly enforce orderliness in their premises; directing that elderly people must be given priority to transact their businesses in bank and markets between 9am and 10:30am, after which other younger customers should be allowed to transact.

He further charged Lagos residents not to take the easing of the lockdown for granted; as all hands must be on deck to contain further spread of COVID-19.

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