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UPDATED: Sanwo-Olu orders reopening of worship centres

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered the re-opening of worship centres in the state with some stringent conditions. The Governor disclosed that having carefully…

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has ordered the re-opening of worship centres in the state with some stringent conditions.

The Governor disclosed that having carefully reviewed the current scenario in Lagos State as regards the novel coronavirus pandemic, places of worship in the state will be allowed to open from Friday, August 7, 2020 for Muslims, and Sunday, August 9 for Christians.

Sanwo-Olu while presenting his 17th update on COVID-19 at the Lagos House, Marina noted that mosques and churches will be allowed to open only at 50 percent of their capacity while attendees over the age of 65 are strongly discouraged from attending worship services.

He mentioned that churches whose main worship days fall on Saturdays, are permitted to hold their services on Saturdays, subject to the same guidelines as churches holding services on Sundays.

He however emphasized that places of worship are only permitted to have their regular once-a-week services on the designated days.

“For the avoidance of doubt, churches are mosques are not permitted to have other services or fellowships outside of their main weekly services. Places of Worship are allowed to schedule multiple services, on their designated worship days, if necessary, as well as also encouraging as many people as possible to participate using virtual means,” he said.

The governor further stressed that religious centres and places of worship that are planning to reopen are only permitted to hold regular services or gatherings while night vigils and other non-regular programmes remain prohibited until further notice.

Services and gatherings he said should hold in large, well-ventilated areas or outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow. He stressed that ‘No facemask, No entry’ policy must be maintained throughout the duration of the services; regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities must be carried out to maintain clean and hygienic environments before and after every service as well as provision of hand-washing facilities and sanitizers at the entry and exit point of the premises.

“National emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently on the premises; handshakes, hugs and ‘high fives’ are not permitted at services or gatherings, and this should be emphasized by displaying appropriate signs prominently. The use of stationary collection boxes and electronic methods for collection of offering must be encouraged. The flow of human traffic in and out of these places of worship must be conducted in an organized and orderly manner,” the governor outlined.

Commenting on schools, the governor said that Secondary Schools in Lagos will reopen, as earlier communicated by the Ministry of Education, from August 3rd, for exit classes only including SS3 and Technical Studies (TEC3) students. This he said is to allow them two weeks to participate in revision classes and examinations in preparation for the forthcoming West African Examinations (WAEC), which will start on August 17, 2020.

He appealed to all schools’ authorities to put in place all standard precautions, which include: hand washing facilities, physical distancing and the use of face masks among others.

“Officials of the Lagos State Government will be inspecting all qualifying schools to ensure that the requirements are fully met. The Lagos State Government will make face masks available to all schools to which this reopening exemption applies, for the duration of the reopening,” he added.

Sanwo-Olu also disclosed that restaurants will now be permitted to open for in-dining services, from August 14, on the provision that they maintain a 50percent occupancy capacity, and have also obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety Commission: www.lasgsafetyreg.com.

The state government has also directed social clubs and recreational centers to open from August 14, 2020, on the condition that they have applied for and obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety Commission.

Clubs and Centres that reopen without complying with the mandatory requirements according to Sanwo-Olu will be shut down and dealt with according to the law. He however made known that the closure of all Spas, Bars, Lounges, Night Clubs, Cinemas, Games arcades remain in place, noting that the possible re-opening of these places will be further reviewed before the end of the month.

“As a State Government we will be ramping up our monitoring and enforcement work, to ensure that all our guidelines and directives are complied with. The relevant agencies will be carrying out spot checks and random inspections of businesses and facilities, and defaulters will be sanctioned appropriately,” he said.

Lagos remains the epicentre of COVID-19 in Nigeria with 15, 121 confirmed cases as at Friday, 31st of July, 2020.

The state has also recorded 879 deaths while 19,565 have recovered and discharged from different health facilities in the state.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on March 29, 2020 imposed a restriction order on Lagos and Ogun states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) for an initial period of 14 days In response to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

While religious worship centres were opened in some states, Lagos had retained a ban on churches and mosques resuming worship.

The Lagos State Government, through its Commissioner for Health, Akin Abayomi disclosed that it spends between N500,000 and N1 million to take care of COVID-19 patients in critical condition.

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