Nigerian Government Sets Strict Conditions For Churches, Mosques To Reopen
The Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 has said under the new guidelines it recently released to ease the lockdown, worship centres will only be permitted to operate for a maximum of one hour each time they meet.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had on Monday announced the relaxation of the ban placed on worship centres which was part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Mr Mustapha said the relaxation will span for a period of four weeks effective from June 2.
Despite lifting the ban, the chairman of the Task Force, Sani Aliyu, said churches and mosques are only allowed to operate between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily.
Mr Aliyu while speaking at the daily PTF briefing on Tuesday said each service should be a maximum of an hour to allow time for disinfection.
He also said Friday prayers in mosques should not exceed one hour.
“For churches, each service should be for a maximum of an hour with an interval of 30 minutes in between services to allow time for disinfection.
“Mosques may open 15 minutes before and 10 minutes after prayers. The total time for Friday prayers should not exceed an hour.
“Islamiya schools, Sunday schools, night vigils, and children classes are to remain suspended,” he said.
Mr Aliyu said church or mosque facilities must be structured to ensure observation of physical distancing by members.
He urged all worshippers to wear a face mask as part of measures to limit the spread of the virus.
“It is important to note that due to the nature of religious congregations, places of worship are particularly recognised to have a major potential for spreading COVID-19 infections amongst worshippers.
“Therefore places of worship that are not able to comply with these measures should not be allowed to operate by state governments,” he said.
Other guidelines include:
“All places of worship must sign up to full compliance with all aspects of non-pharmaceutical interventions required to protect the public from COVID-19 including but not limited to ensuring the supply of running water and soap, alcohol sanitisers at entry and exit points in all high contact locations including bathrooms.
“Worshippers must sanitise their hands before entry.
“Worshippers must have temperature checks before entry and the supervision and the enforcement of this will be led by the leaders of these facilities.
”Use of face masks is mandatory.
“Strongly discourage all close contacts including shaking hands, hugging, sharing prayer mats, musical organs, microphones etc.
“The capacity of the facility should be limited to allow physical distancing of at least two meters between persons.
“Facilities should consider the use of cloth or surface markings to guide distancing and people from the same household should be encouraged to stay together.
“Local arrangements will apply to the capacity of these facilities but the most important thing is to make sure that the physical distancing rule applies.
“Local authorities will be advised in terms of areas of hotspots that might require greater restrictions
“Volunteers should be limited to exact numbers needed and none of the volunteers should have underlying medical conditions or be above the age of 55 years.
“Responsibility for enforcement will be with the leadership, church or mosque committees and supported by local authorities including state governments.
“We are strongly advising vulnerable people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases to please stay at home.
“Windows should be left open during services and preferably use open-air facility as much as possible.”
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