The Ogun State government has lifted ban on movements at weekends and set strict conditions for the reopening of worship centres as it relaxes lockdown meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement on Friday, Governor Dapo Abiodun said the decision to reopen churches and mosques was reached after consultation with the Christian Association of Nigeria and League of Imams and Alfas.
“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,” he announced.
He said all congregants must wear face masks and wash or sanitise their hands before entry into worship centres, which must provide running water.
The governor said the centres must be cleaned and decontaminated, have qualified medical personnel checking temperatures using infrared thermometers and provide isolation rooms for emergencies.
He said worshippers must observe physical distancing rules and that air conditioners not be used during the worship with not more than 200 worshippers and not exceed one and a half hours.
“Let me say that our Task Force is already on ground and is moving about to ensure compliance. And, if perchance we discover that any of our religious centres is not complying or adhering to the laid down protocols, we will not hesitate to close down the centre,” the governor said.
“I want to repeat just like I mentioned in the last COVID-19 update that the purpose is not to open for rowdy ceremonies which can promote community transmission of COVID-19 and or any other communicable diseases that could lead to avoidable death.”
He added that with the reopening of worship centres, restrictions placed on weekend movements had been lifted but that social gatherings must still not have more than 20 people at any time and other measures previously in place would still be enforced.
“It is of great importance that we must be able to balance welfare, wellness and wellbeing with economic activities. More than ever, personal responsibility is at the core of containing this dreaded virus.
“Whilst government will continue to play its parts, we must individually take responsibility for where we go, what we do, who we interact with and the social distancing rule guiding interactions in the face of the pandemic. We cannot be too careful in the new normal.”
According to the latest statistics from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Ogun State has the 10th highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country with 1,535 infections.
The state has recorded 24 deaths so far. While 216 infected people are on admission, 1,295 have been discharged after treatment.
The state with neighbouring Lagos State and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, was considered a critical gateway for the spread of the virus by the Federal Government, which ordered a lockdown of the areas on March 29.
Although other parts of the country have relaxed lockdowns in their areas since June, Ogun and Lagos State have been more cautious with the latter opening worship centres on August 7.
Do not miss any update from the HumAngle team. Click on our WhatsApp button below to subscribe to our up to date breaking news and in-depth journalism.