Lagos Churches And Mosques To Finally Reopen August 7, 2020

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Like many non-essential sectors, religious centres were shut down in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

The Federal Government lifted the ban on religious gatherings in June, but an earlier decision by Sanwo-Olu to comply with the reopening of worship centres was suspended two weeks later.

The governor said the suspension was due to the rising number of new cases recorded in the state which is the epicentre of the coronavirus disease in Nigeria.

However, during a media briefing on Saturday, August 1, Sanwo-Olu said his government has decided to lift certain restrictions due to the gradual decrease in coronavirus positivity rate over the past two weeks.

He said churches and mosques can reopen from August 7, but with only a maximum of 50% of their capacity.

The 55-year-old said the places of worship are only permitted to have their regular once-a-week service on designated worship days, with night vigils or other non-regular services prohibited.

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The governor said restaurants are also now permitted to open for in-dining services from August 14, but with provision to keep 50% occupancy capacity.

Restaurants were not shut down, as an essential service, but they were only permitted for take-out options as public gatherings were banned.

Social clubs and recreational centres are also allowed to reopen from August 14, but after they have been certified by the state’s safety commission.

“Club and centres that reopen without complying with this mandatory requirement will be shut when our enforcers go round,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor also announced that the state has increased the permissible capacity for public gatherings from 20 people to 50.

Night clubs, cinemas, and game arcades will remain closed, but a review will be done in the course of the month to see when they can be in a position to reopen.

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Conditions for places of worship

Sanwo-Olu warned that places of worship must carefully adhere to safety measures to ensure that gatherings are as safe as possible for their worshippers.

He urged them to consider holding services in large, open, and well-ventilated spaces, and provide hand washing facility and hand sanitisers.

The religious centres are also encouraged to organise the flow of human traffic to keep physical distancing in control, and deny entry to worshippers with no face masks.

Other conditions include the regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities to ensure a clean and hygienic environment before, during and after services; prominent display of emergency numbers at premises; and the prominent display of signs that prohibit handshakes, hugs, and other extraneous physical contact.

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Sanwo-Olu advised senior citizens above the age of 65 to completely stay away from worship centres because they are still more vulnerable to infection.

Lagos has recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in Nigeria with 15,121 cases, 35% of Nigeria’s total of 43,151 cases, as of July 31.

Sanwo-Olu warned that the eased restrictions should not encourage people to recklessly gather in groups.

He said, “Lagosians should please continue to keep in mind there is still documented evidence that mass gathering can increase the spread of infectious disease.

“As such, all standard prevention and control measures must still be strictly adhered to.”

He said all the new decisions announced on Saturday were taken in line with the objective of creating an effective balance between demand for safeguarding human lives, and enabling the livelihood of Lagosians.

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