A lawyer walks through the compound at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi district in Lagos, Nigeria, May 8, 2018. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye

Some 34 fitness enthusiasts involved in a street exercise in Gbagada, Lagos, have been sentenced to one-month community service for violating the social distancing directives of the government.

A Yaba Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday convicted the defendants, following their plea of guilty to a one-count charge of working out in a group larger than 20 persons on the Gbagada-Oworonsoki Expressway.

Three others pleaded not guilty.

The court also ruled that the violators be quarantined for 14 days at the Infectious Diseases Hospital Yaba or any other place designated by the government.

The first street exercise was recorded on Monday at Gbagada area of the state with participation from a large number of residents.

Subsequently, it was reported that the street exercise and mobile fitness gym moved to the Ikorodu area of the state with scores of participants, on Tuesday.

The joint exercise held at Gbagada and Ikorodu drew over 50 residents and fitness enthusiasts.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 30, imposed a 14-day lockdown on Lagos and Ogun states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory, to restrict the movement of people with the aim of slowing down the spread of COVID-19.

The Lagos State Government had also released safety guidelines such as social distancing and prohibition of any social or religious gathering of more than 20 persons.

The state government on March 27, passed the Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation (2020), to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Since the ban on a social or religious gathering of more than 20 persons, different violations have been recorded in the state, including churches and mosques holding services amidst the directive.

Newsmen also reported how wedding ceremonies and several events of more than 50 persons were also held within the period. Clubs and strip houses were also opened during the period.

Section 8 of the newly passed Lagos State Infectious Diseases (Emergency Prevention) Regulation 2020 “restricts or prohibits the gathering of persons in the local area such as conferences, meetings, festivals, private events, religious services, public visits and such other events, save where the written approval of the Governor is obtained for such gathering. ”

The law also spells out that violation of the provisions of the regulation will attract fines or imprisonment or both in accordance with the extant Quarantine Act 2004.

Despite the prohibition of gatherings of persons in the state, several residents have found means to form large gatherings, including at newspaper joints, gathering to have morning discussions and the latest being the large gathering of people for street exercise.

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