COVID-19: Kwara Bans Opening of Football Viewing Centres

Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq
  • Kenya govt bars football fans from watching EPL in bars

Hammed Shittu in Ilorin

Kwara State Government late Tuesday night banned the opening of all football viewing centres across the 16 local government councils in the state.

On Tuesday, the state recorded 17 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally of confirmed cases to 168 while 100 patients have been discharged after they twice tested negative.

The ban according to the government is to prevent the viewing centres from becoming a window for the transmission of more Covid-19 in the state.

THISDAY checks also revealed that the development might not be unconnected with the recent commencement of Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga. Even the English topflight, the Premier League restated yesterday evening with two games.

Our correspondent’s visit to some of the football viewing centres in Ilorin on Monday revealed that hundreds of football fans were seen watching La Liga matches without observing an important health protocol like social distancing.

A Government House statement issued in Ilorin yesterday signed by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary and Spokesman of the Covid-19 Technical Committee, Mr. Rafiu Ajakaye warned that viewing centres are not permitted to open for business as usual.

“The government is aware that the English Premier League will commences Wednesday (yesterday) June 17th. This is to state clearly that viewing centres are not allowed to open under any guise during this pandemic.

“Doing so will actively promote the spread of the virus, endanger people’s lives, and further stretch public resources to the limit,” observed the committee.

The statement further said: “The government fully appreciates and apologises for the inconveniences this restriction means for some businesses and football enthusiasts. However, it has a duty to ensure that lives are protected. This cannot be compromised.

“The government similarly warns against mass gatherings (crowded weddings, clubbing and partying) of any kind at this time. Violators shall come under the full weight of the Kwara State Infectious Diseases Regulations 2020,” the statement further warned.

The Kwara government, meanwhile, has directed that all motorcycles and other items seized during the lockdown be released to their owners without any preconditions.

“We commend the security agencies for their good work during and after the lockdown. They did and are still doing a great job, and the government is grateful to them.

“The seizure of motorcycles and other items at that time was a lawful way of enforcing compliance with safety measures,” the statement added.

“Following the relaxation of the lockdown, however, the government hereby directs immediate and unconditional release of those motorcycles and other items to their owners so as not to worsen the socioeconomic hardships that the pandemic has already imposed at global, national, state, and individual levels.”

Similarly, Kenya’s government spokesperson, Cyrus Oguna, shattered the hopes of football fans who had wanted to watch Premier League matches in bars last night.

The Premier League returned after a 100-day absence because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fixtures are been played behind closed doors as one of a host of measures to prevent any further spread of the virus.

The government spokesperson said bars would remain closed in adherence to safety measures, and added that it was better to miss a match than die from coronavirus.

He urged football fans to be patient.

Mr Oguna said a committee tasked with overseeing government response to the pandemic was looking into the possible effects of reopening bars.

On Tuesday, the health ministry extended opening hours for restaurants until 19:30 local time.

Mr Oguna tweeted his advice to football fans.