Ondo state Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu has ordered the reopening of churches and other religious institutions in the state following the review of Coronavirus cases. The reopening is expected to be guided and syndicated.
Speaking at a press briefing in Akure during the weekly media briefing on COVID-19 in the state, the Ondo State Governor said the ban was lifted after a wide review and consultations with religious leaders and other stakeholders in the state.
The Governor said that while the weekly Friday Jumat services and Sunday Church services will commence in the first instance, other programs within the week are not yet approved for take-off. Religious leaders have also been directed to ensure that they comply with all health guidelines to check the spread of the virus.
According to the governor, religious worship appears to be the last hope of both the high and low in the society hence his resolve to lift the ban on religious activities so that everyone will continue to seek the face of God over the ravaging disease.
The state which just recorded its second death from the deadly virus had earlier placed ban on all religious gathering in the state on March 23rd but following review and consultations with religious leaders in the state, the ban has been lifted.
“As agreed with religious leaders, in specific terms, worship centers are to commence their main activities with effect from this Friday. However, such approvals are not blanket and without restrictions, rather they are to be guided by the general response protocols on COVID-19 nationally.
“Weekly Friday Jumat services and Sunday Church services will commence in the first instance. Other daily programmes within the week are not yet approved for take-off. Religious leaders and administrators must ensure strict compliance with the social and physical distancing in the places of worship.
“In the case of churches, not more than three people are expected to sit on a pew while the equivalent applies to the sitting positions in the mosques and other worship centres as well. Water and soap must be provided at all entries into the centres or halls of worship 2hile all worshipers must be made to wash their hands in the standard pattern approved and practised since the beginning of the pandemic.
“Hand sanitizers must be provided and used by each worshiper at every entry point to the centres and at other convenient points within the premises and all worshipers and workers inside the centres and within the premises must wear face masks properly for the duration of the service. Churches, Mosques and other religious centres must regularly decontaminate and sanitise the premises, facilities and equipment before and after the services.” He shared
The governor also warned that he would not hesitate to immediately close down any Church, Mosque or worship centers which fails to obey the simple rule.
The governor had to reversed his decision to reopen churches in the state during the Easter period.. He had given churches the permission to conduct Easter Sunday services amidst the lockdown in the state but after his decision was made public, some Ondo residents took to social media to protest over the decision. The hashtag #LockDownOndo started trending on micro-blogging site, Twitter. Governor Akeredolu finally bowed to pressure by reversing the earlier order after a meeting with representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria in the state.
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