LAYI OLANREWAJU, Ilorin
Kwara State Government has disclosed that worship centres may reopen from Friday, June 5th on the condition that they satisfy certain criteria already agreed with various religious umbrella bodies in the state.
The government however warned that the concession for churches and mosques to reopen does not mean that the state has flattened the curve of transmission of COVID-19 pandemic.
The decision came hours after the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19 held a marathon meeting with the leadership of the Muslim and Christian communities, including the Jama’atu Nasrul Islam (JNI) and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) .
“We are definitely not out of the woods as cases continue to rise especially because of violation of travel restrictions,” Kayode Alabi, Deputy Governor and Chairman of Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, told journalists late Wednesday in Ilorin.
He said: “We are definitely not out of the woods as cases continue to rise especially because of violation of travel restriction. It is preferred that worship centres should remain shut until it is clear that the curve of transmission has been flattened
“However, in line with the presidential advisory and the positions of our religious umbrella bodies in Kwara State, worship centres in Kwara State may reopen from June 5th (Friday) provided they satisfy the following conditions:
Worship centres shall be organised (by the respective head of the congregation) in such a way that one attendant is at least one metre away from the next.
“Each worship centre shall make provisions for hand washing or hand sanitisers, and infrared thermometer.
“Wearing of face masks shall be mandatory for all worshippers. There shall be no hand shaking or hugging among worshippers.
“Children remain restricted from worship centres. People above 65 or persons with underlying health conditions are urged to stay away from worship centres, while Muslims should perform ablution from their own houses. Ablution spots are not allowed for now to avoid the spread of the virus.
“Muslim women are to stay away from mosques, as suggested by the leadership of the Muslim community in the state.
“Each worship centre is to dedicate a few minutes before service or prayers to educate attendants about COVID-19 and its dangers, while adequate ventilation is to be ensured at each worship centre.”
Alabi, who said government’s RRT would conduct random visits to worship centres to take samples and do temperature checks, warned that government would hold affected religious leaders responsible for non compliance with all COVID-19-related safety measures in their worship centres as agreed by the religious umbrella bodies, adding that government demands full compliance with all protocols as failure to do so would amount to a huge drain on public resources.
He said: “The leadership of religious communities agreed that any worship centre that violates these provisions would be shut down and its leadership strictly held accountable.”
The Deputy Governor, who said that seven more of the COVID-19 patients who have twice tested negative have been discharged, added that the remaining patients are stable and doing well — thanks to the government’s efforts and the commitment of healthcare officials who, he said, are doing so well to keep the flag flying.