The Ogun State Government has announced the re-opening of worship centres effective from Friday, with conditions that, the coronavirus protocols and guidelines must be strictly adhered to by the authorities’ of the centres.
Penpushing reports that, Governor Dapo Abiodun made this known in a press statement, as an update to the pandemic, stressing that towards ensuring compliance, Task Force is already on ground and is moving about to ensure compliance.
The Governor declared that, if perchance government discovers that any of the religious centre is not complying or adhering to the laid down protocols, government will not hesitate to close down the centre.
‘Let me inform our people of the two major issues that have been in view for some months: reopening of worship centres and schools. 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 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’, he said
Penpushing further reports that, Abiodun who admitted that coronavirus has come to stay, assured that his administration is committed to doing the needful to help all the people of the State to adapt to this new life pending the time that the scourge will be over.
‘Let me reassure all the people of Ogun State that we will continue to do all that we can to flatten the curve of COVID 19 in our dear State. We are committed to doing the needful as a Government to help all the people of Ogun State to adapt to this new life pending the time that the scourge will be over.
The Government gives details of the conditions which stated that, all congregants must wear their face masks appropriately (that is, No facemask, No entry); adequate provision of running water; worship centres should be adequately cleaned and decontaminated before and after services and household bleach solution / equivalent should be adequately prepared for disinfectations.
Penpushing also reports that, other conditions are that, there should be adequate provision and supervision of multiple veronica buckets for handwashing (fully automated handwashing machines are preferable); there should be provision of alcohol-based sanitiser which must be used before and after service; worship centres should provide adequate toilet facilities with water.
The condition also has it that, Muslims are to perform ablution at home and go to mosque with their personal praying mats; qualified medical practitioners or trained personnels should check the temperature of worshippers with infrared thermometer before allowing them to enter worship centres.
*There should be adequate medical support for sick persons; all services on Friday/Sunday and other week days must adhere strictly to COVID-19 Guidelines; there should be pre-designated standing position/sitting positions to ensure not less than 2 meter spacing;
* 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; the use of air-conditioners should be discouraged while worship centres should be well ventilated with the use of fans.
*There should not be any handshakes/hugs by worshippers;proper awareness of the susceptibility of the aged and people with signs of ill-health should be adequately created among worshippers all times; constant sensitisation of COVID-19 and its dangers should be included in sermon and goodwill messages;
*Provision of isolation rooms is mandatory in all worship centres or facilities; religious services and events should be recorded with digital camera for record purposes; worship centres and facilities with more than 200 worshippers in a given service must seek further clearance with the State Government;at all times, there should be effective entry and exit management procedures in each of the worship ecntres; and 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’, the governor emphasised.
‘We will rather want our worship centres to be venues of solemnisation of matrimonies; christening of new-borns; venues of thanksgivings and praise-worship to the greatness of God. This explains our cautious, consultative, inclusive, and collaborative approach to reopening of our worship centres’.
The Governor on education, said SS3 students resumed classes on Tuesday, 4th August, 2020 for two weeks revision period to prepare the SS3 students and ends today(Friday), adding that, ‘ we are all looking forward to the commencement of the Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE) on Monday, 17th August, 2020.
‘We want to enjoin all stakeholders, particularly the school administrators, teachers looking forward to the commencement of, parents, guardians to ensure that the safety of the children is paramount and all laid down COVID-19 Protocols are adhered to. I wish all our students in Ogun State writing the examination the very best of luck’, he said.
‘Following the release of the timetable for examinations by the National Examination Council (NECO), JSS3 students who have registered for the NECO Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) are to return to school from Monday 17th August 2020’.
‘The BECE exam organized by the Ogun State Government will hold at a date to be announced later. Furthermore, entrance examinations into Ogun State Boarding Schools will take place on Saturday 12th September 2020. As a Government, we will continue to monitor events as they unfold. We will be guided by statistics and feedback from the reopening of schools for exit classes and from our health professionals as we deliberate on opening up more sectors of the economy’.
The Governor added that the restrictions on weekends are lifted, but declared that the limitation on social gatherings not exceeding 20 people at any place at the same time is still very much in force.
‘ As I end this address, let me use this opportunity once again to appreciate all our frontline workers – doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical lab scientists and indeed all health workers for their devotion and commitment towards this struggle’.
‘In the same vein, I commend the perseverance of our security personnel, journalists and other essential workers for their efforts to flatten the curve of COVID-19. Lastly, I want to express my appreciation to all the citizens of Ogun State for their support, solidarity and cooperation. We thank our people for their support and cooperation. We urge you to continue to cooperate with us’.