…as facemask defaulters face six-month imprisonment
Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun on Wednesday declared that worship centres across the state were free to reopen on August 14.
Abiodun stated this during a press conference in Abeokuta.
The governor urged religious leaders to ensure that they abide by the measures mutually agreed upon and rolled out.
He noted that the state government would not hesitate to impose severe sanctions, including, but not limited to lockdown, on any worship centre that failed to comply with the laid down guidelines.
“It is important to note that all religions make provision for obedience to God and the authorities of the land.
“The Holy Qur’an stipulates in chapter 4, verse 59 that “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the messenger and those in authority among you.
”The same message is also preached in the Holy Bible. According to the English Standard Version (ESV), Roman 13, verses 1-7, “let everybody be subject to the governing authorities.
“Those that exist have been instituted by God… those who resist will incur judgement.
“We had continued to engage the leaderships of the two religious bodies, as represented by Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the League of Imams and Alfas on the modalities for the reopening of the religious houses.
“And, we thank them for their understanding, support and solidarity. In fact, the committee on the consideration of reopening of worship centres has been enlarged to include the Honourable Commissioners for Health; Environment; and, Physical Planning.
“This committee has continued to interface with the leadership of different religious centres at several times. I must say that this has yielded positive results.
“We now have guidelines for the reopening of our worship centres jointly developed and agreed with our religious leaders.
“This was finalised after collaborative and inclusive meeting with the religious institutional representatives and made available on Monday, July 27. It is in our collective interest to fully comply with the guidelines so that, together, we can further flatten the curve of this pandemic.
For the avoidance of doubt, some of the elements of the guidelines 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 disinfected 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 points to ensure not less than 2 meter distancing;
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 handshake/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 further seek concurrence with the State Government committee;
xxi. At all times, there should be adequate ventilation and effective Entry & Exit Management Procedure 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.