Sanwo-Olu Orders Full Reopening of Mosques, Churches

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Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu

Segun James

The Lagos Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered the reopening of places of worship in the state.

He said mosques can hold their prayers five times daily, while churches can also commence weekly services.

Worship centres were restricted to one gathering weekly after they were allowed to reopen following the lockdown to check the coronavirus pandemic in the nation.

The governor also ordered public and private schools to resume fully from Monday, September 21, 2020.

Sanwo-Olu, in his eighteenth update on coronavirus as the Incident Commander, said that it has become necessary to issue clarifications regarding the resumption of schools, to clear any confusion that may have arisen since the original announcement was made.

“It is important for all parents, guardians and stakeholders to note that there are different resumption schedules for public and private schools in Lagos State.

“Public schools will adopt a phased protocol for resumption of physical classes, with students in JS 3 and SS 2 in public schools in Lagos State are to resume physical classes from Monday the 21st of September, 2020. This resumption will allow the JS 3 students to adequately revise and prepare for their forthcoming Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) organized by the Lagos State Examination Board, and scheduled for Tuesday, 6th October until Monday, 12th of October, 2020.

“The resumption will also afford the present SS 2 students an opportunity to prepare effectively for their transition to SS 3. The scheduled dates and venues for Entrance Examination into Lagos State Model Colleges will be announced in due course by the Lagos State Examination Board.

“For all other public-school classes – All Primary School Classes, and JS 1, JS 2, and SS 1, announcements for resumption will be made as soon as the Lagos State Government is satisfied that all necessary resumption protocols have been put in place.

“In the meantime, these yet-to-resume classes in public schools are expected to continue their lessons on our various distance learning platforms (online, radio, television and WhatsApp) pending the announcement of dates for physical resumption,” he said.

He stated that all private primary and secondary schools are permitted to resume from Monday, 21st of September, 2020.

“We have strongly advised school owners and managers to put safety first and open in phases similar to the announced schedule for public schools.

“We have also advised private primary and secondary school owners and managers to seriously consider implementing a staggered daily resumption schedule, classes on alternate days during the week, and utilization of distance learning methods as a complement to physical classes.

“All private primary and secondary schools are also expected to comply with safety protocols and hygiene guidelines as instructed by the state government through the Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA).

“The Office of Education Quality Assurance will continue to monitor and evaluate schools’ preparedness. If, however, any teacher or school head notices any pupil is ill, he or she should isolate such a pupil in a safe and secured room pending when the appropriate health authorities are contacted.

“At this point it is very important to clarify that ALL Pre-Primary – Nursery, Daycare Centres and Kindergarten – classes and schools in both public and private schools will remain closed until further announcements are made by the Lagos State Government.

“All pupils of Pre-Primary Schools in Lagos State must therefore remain at home until further notice, and continue to receive their lessons by virtual means,” the governor said.

He said that as at Friday, September 18, 2020, Lagos State had conducted close to 100,000 tests; and recorded a total of 18,854 confirmed cases of COVID-19, adding that of this number, 15,598 have recovered in community, 592 are currently active in community, and 207 deaths have sadly occurred.

According to him, “Our management strategy in Lagos State continues to focus on a combination of admission to COVID-19 Care Centres for some cases, and Home-Based care and support for asymptomatic, mild or moderate cases.

“I am pleased to note that we are continuing the decentralization of our sample collection, at our 57 LCDAs, and testing. We have recently accredited 10 private laboratories in addition to the existing four (4) public laboratories to make up Lagos State Covid-19 Laboratory Consortium.

“We are constantly expanding testing capacity to cope with the impending increase in the number of tests, especially following the re-opening of the International Airport.

“Our status as home of the busiest International Airport in Nigeria comes with added responsibilities to ensure that the pandemic situation in Lagos State is not complicated by additional cases of imported infections.

“All incoming travellers to Lagos State must be certified by testing to be COVID-19-free before and after arrival in the State. We encourage outbound travellers to also do a Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure to avoid inconveniences at their respective destinations.”

Sanwo-Olu said that since the commencement of the flights coming into the country on the September 5 till date, “we have recorded a total of 50 flights – a daily average of six flights – carrying a total of almost 8,000 passengers. Despite this inbound volume of passengers, our positivity rate still remains on the downward trend at under 5%.

“The current guidelines developed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for air travel make it necessary for travellers to present a negative COVID-19 PCR result within 72 hours of boarding a flight heading into Nigeria.”

He stressed that from October, “we will announce the decisions regarding the reopening of other sectors of the economy: night-clubs, bars, event centres, spas, public parks and so on. For now, these will continue to remain closed, until fixed plans for reopening are announced in October 2020”.

“As regards our places of worship, we are now also permitting the mosques to resume their five times a day prayers; and in the case of churches, they are now also permitted to resume their mid-week services.

“We must not forget that the coronavirus pandemic is still very much with us, and we must therefore strive to prioritize the safety of all our children, teachers, parents and the entire society.

“All of these resumption guidelines and protocols must be strictly adhered to by the various stakeholders.

“The Lagos State Government, like the federal government, is committed to continuing the maintenance of a fine balance between the safety of lives and the sustenance of livelihoods. We will continue to make adjustments as required, but the gradual resumption of social, educational and economic activity must never be taken as an excuse to let down our guard against the pandemic,” he said.