Large crowds in viewing centres as Lagosians defile social distancing, lockdown order

David Luiz receives red card against Man City

Viewing centres in Nigeria returned to full business following the return of the English Premier League yesterday despite the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.

A popular viewing centre in Lagos Mainland known as Sir T. Pub was packed with football fans, mostly Arsenal supporters who defied heavy rain to watch the Premier League.

The Nigerian government had eased down lockdown in the country, with curfew starting from 10pm till 4am and businesses opening with strict observation of safety measures.

The viewing centre is said to be less than 50 metres from a police checkpoint where officers began enforcing curfew, few minutes before the match ended.

Football pub in Lagos
Fans sat shoulder-to-shoulder waiting for the kick-off (Photo Credit: BBC Sports)

Tochukwu, an Arsenal fan told BBC Sports Africa that: “I have been at home for too long, I have missed football.”

Another man in a striped shirt that was drenched from the rain said: “This is the only thing that gives meaning to the days and separates the weekdays from the weekends – we are tired of coronavirus.”

Football pub in Lagos
The hall thinned out as Arsenal conceded a second goal through a penalty (Photo Credit: BBC Sports)

“We are just risking it to show these games,” the owner of the pub told me.

“There’s no money, what do you want us to do?” he asked as he piled the chairs assisted by two waiters.

Lagos is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, with 7,616 confirmed cases coming from Lagos.

In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, curfew starts by 8pm to 6am, despite the match starting 15 minutes after the curfew, viewing centres were still open for large gathering of fans to watch the game.

Arsenal were beaten at the Etihad Stadium by Manchester City with goals from Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bryune and Phil Foden after defender David Luiz was sent off in the 49th minutes.

Very few fans remained in the pubs to see Phil Foden add a third for Manchester City; the large contingent of Arsenal fans had long departed.

Nigeria has so far recorded 17,735 cases with 469 deaths.

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