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Unusual Valentine’s Day amid pandemic

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Never in the history of valentine celebrations have things been this quiet on a day that couples are supposed to show love to their partners the way “they have never done before.” Before now, preparations would have peaked several days before the D-Day.

In the past, hotels would before the end of January, begin to flood the airwaves with packages for married couples and sundry lovebirds. This is in addition to transforming the ambience of their facilities, and making the atmosphere right for romance matters, both in looks and offerings. Sumptuous, finger-licking and mouthwatering dishes are also always part of the bargain.

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On their parts, fun spots, shopping arcades, and romantic locations would engage in overdrive in a bid to sell their packages to those struck by the love bugs, while in Lagos, you would make unforgettable memories in one of them.

President’s Directive On Safety Protocols
But all that is on the low key now, especially since many of the outlets have been instructed to admit not more than 50 people within their facilities at a time. In an Executive Order, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that all gatherings, a physical distance of at least two metres should be maintained at all times between persons.

The Order also stated that no gathering of more than 50 persons should hold in an enclosed space, except for religious purposes. It added that no persons should gain access to markets, including open markets, malls, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, hotels, event centres, gardens, leisure, parks, recreation centres, motor parks, fitness centres or any other similar establishment, except such person is wearing a face covering that covers the nose and mouth, aside washing his hands or cleaning the hands using hand sanitiser approved by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC). The body temperature should be checked too.

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“Every establishment occupier shall make provision for regular hand hygiene for any person coming into the premises during opening hours. This includes a
handwashing station with soap and running water, or hand sanitiser approved by NAFDAC. Each establishment occupier is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting his premises. It is the responsibility of the occupier of the establishment to enforce the proper use of face covering, make provision for safe hygiene facilities.”

Visit To A Mall
At the Festival Mall, Amuwo-Odofin, on Friday, there was hand sanitiser for all visitors to clean their hands, after which body temperature was measured. It was after this, a visitor could go into the mall. There are two entrances for customers to go into the mall, but one of it has been shut, probably to control in flow of guests.

The Guardian visited some outlets within the mall. At Shoprite and Buka Hut, customers’ temperature was not re-checked at the shops’ doorsteps neither were customers made to apply hand sanitiser before going into the shops. It was same scenario at two other eateries within the mall and PlayZone. But at Genesis Cinema, though body temperature was not re-measured, the two bouncers at the entrance of the cinema ensured the proper use of nosemasks and hand sanitizer before allowing fun seekers to gain a pass into the cinema.

Representatives of Buka Hut and Genesis Cinema refused to comment on the likely losses the company would incur by enforcing the COVID-19 safety protocol of not allowing more than 50 persons within their facilities at a time.
Cost Implication For A Business Ensuring Safety Protocol Compliance
Speaking on the cost implication of enforcing the COVID-19 safety protocols within its facility, the Manager of Playzone, Olufunmilade Onalaja said there had been huge negative revenue implication for his company since they started implementing COVID-19 safety protocols as dictated by government.

“We have reduced the number of people that could come in at a time. Although our facility is spacious, we only allow a maximum of 30 people at a time. As a result, it has affected sales and we have also reduced our staff strength. This same process would apply on today when valentine would be celebrated.

Normally, during special days like this, we average N1m from sales, but due to COVID-19, though we are not God, our projection, taking into consider the COVID-19 realities, is about N400,000 to N500,000.”

Residents Shared Experience On How They Would Mark The Day
Many residents of Lagos still look up to having a fun filled valentine celebration despite the challenges of COVID-19. Sharing his experience, Temidayo Lawal, said he would be celebrating with his family and loved ones.

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“But I won’t be going anywhere. I am not planning to go anywhere, just going to fix up the house for a beautiful family dinner. I guess having my family with me during this period already is special. And loved ones could be in for some surprises. But for my lady, she already got her gift this week.”

For Ajaka Charles, an entrepreneur, he would be having a get together with friends, after which he would drive down to an orphanage to show love. “I will definitely be visiting an orphanage with friends like I always do. I am always happy being around them.”

On his part, Ashley Kayode said if he would not be too busy today, he would be at the cinema to a movie. “I have nothing special planned actually for the day.”

Ultimate love star and entrepreneur, Chris Obaoye stated that valentine being a season of love to celebrate with a special person, who is definitely would be his wife. To mark the day, he would take his wife on a date at a beautiful hotel with all scenery.

“I want her to enjoy all the goodies that that special hotel has to offer. We don’t have to cook or think about what to eat. It’s a time we both stay away from the world and talk about our future plans together in secluded place.

“After this, my wife and I are heading to a tropical resort where we can enjoy the beautiful water view and fresh breeze and possible kayaking. Valentine isn’t just a day for your partner but also a day to reflect on how far you have come and could go.”

Benedicta Losh would be spending the day with his family and siblings at her parents’ place. This is aside taking her daughter and nephews to have ice cream and pizza at the mall on the Island. “I have nothing big planned out than spending time with the family. Since the celebration falls on a Sunday, it is perfect.”

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Cleric’s View
The General Superintendent, Holy Spirit Mission, a.k.a Happy Family Centre, Bishop Charles Ighele, however, said couples need not wait until Valentine Day before expressing love to one another.

“As a man of God, the way valentine is celebrated is alien to Bible’s teachings. Kissing and hugging, which are dangerous at this time are not even in the scriptures. Of course, couples do not wait until the valentine time before they celebrate love. So, there is nothing special about valentine. What those celebrating valentine is telling us is that they are expressing love and that type of love cannot be seen in the Bible.

“Already, couples know their limitations, when it comes to expressing love at this time of pandemic. They have been observing preventive measures against COVID-19 before this time, but as they express their love to one another, they should still continue to take steps against things that are inimical to their health.”

According to him, celebration of love among couples is very important, and it is something that should be celebrated often, because love is the bedrock of the family, which must be allowed to grow. He added that the husband and wife have roles to play to keep the light of the home burning.

“I believe that couples should have special time to celebrate their love life. I have a wife and we make ourselves happy. Once in a week, we take ourselves out, sit down somewhere and celebrate our marriage.

“Husbands are expected to love their wives, while the wives are also expected to love their husbands in practical terms. Both should not wait for valentine period to celebrate love.

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“There is no where in the Bible that talks about celebrating valentine, as it is being done today. In fact, there are lots of contrary verses in the Bible that negate the type of valentine being celebrated these days. Valentine has become a time boys and girls go into immorality. It is the day, boys and girls let loose. They set themselves up and do things contrary to nature.

“Coming together in sex is for couples and not for boys and girls. And what is the result of valentine being celebrated today- unwanted pregnancies, abortions, broken hearts that have ruined the lives of a lot of young ones.

“So, when we talk of Valentine as it should be, it is for couples, which should also be celebrated in a neat way. Happily married couples should celebrate Valentine if there is anything like that in the sight of God with observance of precautions against COVDID-19.

“My advice to Nigerians is that they should think of how many young boys and girls that have messed up their lives on what they call or describe as Valentine Day and take precaution. The best thing for anyone, who wants to express love, is to marry and start marriage life journey.

“Boys and girls should not ruin their lives in the name of expressing lust, which they call love, because what they think is happiness to them is what is evoking God’s wrath. In a clear term, fornication and adultery in Biblical language is what they call Valentine today.”

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