The Governor of Ogun State, Dapo Abiodun, has approved the reopening of worship centres in the state.
Churches, Mosques and other places of worship in the state have been closed since March this year as part of measures to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the state.
In a statement released on Friday August 14, the governor said he took the decision after thorough deliberation, consideration and resolution with stakeholders. He also disclosed that the decision to lift the weekend’s lockdown was due to the opening of worship centres for activities.
“After thorough deliberation, consideration and resolution, we decided to reopen the worship centres with effect from Friday 14th August, 2020 as indicated in my last address. This decision was made in line with an agreement reached by the committee set up to develop guidelines for reopening of the religious centres.
The Committee includes the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN); the League of Imams and Alfas and Government representatives.
I am delighted to note that reports reaching us indicate varying but encouraging level of preparedness by the Worship Centres.
Therefore, today, Friday, 14th August is hereby confirmed for the commencement of operations of the Worship Centres, subject to the guidelines.”
The statement further reads
”It is of great importance that all stakeholders fully comply with the agreed guidelines, so that, together, we can further flatten the curve of this pandemic. For the purpose of emphasis, let me restate some of the elements of the guidelines which are as follows:
i. All congregants must wear their face masks appropriately (that is, No facemask, No entry);
ii. Adequate provision of running water;
iii. Worship centres should be adequately cleaned and decontaminated before and after services;
iv. Household bleach solution / equivalent should be adequately prepared for disinfectations;
v. There should be adequate provision and supervision of multiple Veronica Buckets for handwashing (fully automated handwashing machines are preferable);
vi. There should be provision of alcohol-based sanitiser which must be used before and after service;
vii. Worship centres should provide adequate toilet facilities with water;
viii. Muslims are advised to perform ablution at home and go to Mosque with their personal praying mats;
ix. Qualified Medical Practitioners or trained personnels should check the temperature of worshippers with infrared thermometer before allowing them to enter worship centres;
x. There should be adequate medical support for sick persons;
xi. All services on Friday/Sunday and other week days must adhere strictly to COVID-19 Guidelines;
xii. There should be pre-designated standing position/sitting positions to ensure not less than 2 meter spacing;
xiii. The duration of religious services should not be more than one and a half hours. In addition, same duration of one and a half hours must be observed as intervals, where there are multiple services;
xiv. The use of Air-conditioners should be discouraged while worship centres should be well ventilated with the use of fans;
xv. There should not be any handshakes/hugs by worshippers;
xvi. Proper awareness of the susceptibility of the aged and people with signs of ill-health should be adequately created among worshippers at all times;
xvii. Constant sensitisation of COVID-19 and its dangers should be included in sermon and goodwill messages;
xviii. Provision of isolation rooms is mandatory in all worship centres or facilities;
xix. Religious services and events should be recorded with digital camera for record purposes;
xx. Worship Centres and facilities with more than 200 worshippers in a given service must seek further clearance with the State Government;
xxi. At all times, there should be effective Entry and Exit Management Procedures in each of the Worship Centres;
xxii. Administration of Holy Communion should be devoid of sharing of any item and must follow COVID-19 protocols.
We are therefore appealing to our people, particularly our religious leaders to ensure that they adhere strictly to the protocols as have been agreed upon. We all agreed on these protocols to open the worship centres for many reasons.”
He warned that the state government would not hesitate to close down any religious center if it fails to comply or adhere to the laid down protocols.
The governor announced that Event centres, bars, casinos, cinemas, and night clubs in the state are to remain closed. He added that Restaurants are permitted to provide only take-away services and should also ensure that there are no more than 15 customers at a time with physical distancing measures in place.