COVID-19: Osun, Benue relax lockdown, reopen churches, mosques

Posted by News Express | 4 June 2020 | 761 times

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•Governor Oyetola

The governors of Osun and Benue states on Wednesday ordered partial reopening of worship centres in their various states as part of the relaxation of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Gov. Gboyega Oyetola of Osun, in a meeting held with Christian and Muslim religious leaders in Osogbo, said the decision to reopen worship centers partially was in response to the leaders’ request.

He also said that the reopening was due to Federal Government resolve to lift ban on religious activities.

The governor said the state government had prepared guidelines that must be followed to forestall possible spread of the virus as a result of the reopening of worship centres.

Oyetola said further actions by the government would be determined by the effect of compliance level to the guidelines by churches and mosques during the two-week period.

He also said that only regular church services of not more than one hour and maximum of two services would be allowed.

“Jumat service including khutbah (sermon) and prayers must not exceed 20 minutes.

“Vulnerable individuals such as those from age 65 and above and people with underlying ailments such as tuberculosis and diabetes were to continue worshipping at their respective homes,” Oyetola said.

He also directed that all church and mosque premises be fumigated to ensure that the environment are free of virus and other infectious diseases.

“Worshipers are to keep reasonable space in churches and mosques and no worship centre must be filled to capacity during any service and solat, respectively.

“Attendance at any service or solat must not exceed one-third capacity of the church or mosque.

“There should be provision of washing facilities or sanitisers for worshipers before entering the churches and mosques.

“Also, use of face mask is important, sharing of worship devices such as microphones and other musical gadgets should be discouraged. Water and food distribution during service should not be allowed.

“Worshippers must avoid exchange of banters and social distancing must be strictly observed.

“Windows in churches and mosques should be opened during worship for ventilation.

“Signage and notices should be placed at strategic locations to remind worshippers of best hygiene practices to be observed,” the governor said.

He also mandated churches and mosques to provide thermometers to check temperature of worshippers, adding that whoever has high temperature should not be allowed into the worship centres.

The governor added that vigils and children activities remain suspended, and that worship centres with support of security operatives should set up taskforce to enforce compliance with measures put in place by the government.

He, however, appreciated the leadership of both religions for their cooperation and understanding since the lockdown began in the state.

“We seek your continued cooperation so that we can together save our people from this deadly outbreak,” the governor said.

On his part, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, announced the reopening of churches and mosques with effect from June 3, 2020, but with staggered worship sessions.

This, according to Ortom, implies that a church or mosque, which before now held two worship sessions, should henceforth conduct four or more sessions in a day to ensure physical distancing.

It also said each worship session must not last more than one hour.

“Churches and mosques should endeavour to provide water, soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers for worshippers, and should insist on wearing of masks,” he said

The governor also directed civil servants on grade levels 1 to 12 to resume work on June 8, 2020.

The workers were advised to always wear masks and maintain physical distancing as they go to work.

Furthermore, he said markets are to be opened but are subject to physical distancing protocol on Covid-19.

Other measures announced are that public gatherings are permitted with a maximum of 30 persons who must comply with the protocol of COVID-19, inter-state movement remains banned, except those on essential services.

The prevailing curfew in the state has also been reviewed to now last between the hours of 10pm to 4am daily, until further notice.

However, the governor directed that schools should remain closed till further notice.

He appreciated the people of the state for the cooperation and understanding they’ve shown throughout the period of the pandemic. (THISDAY)

Source: News Express

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