Why Sanwo-Olu ordered reopening of worship centres August 7

Lagos State governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday ordered reopening of worship centres, including mosques and churches in the state with effect from August 7, saying positive cases of COVID-19 pandemic had reduced in the state.

The state government had shut worship centres in the state as part of its efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state being the epicentre of the pandemic in the country.

The governor also directed that secondary schools in Lagos would reopen, as earlier communicated by the Ministry of Education, from August 3, for exit classes only, namely SS3 and Technical Studies TEC3 students only.

Governor Sanwo-Olu issued these directives while giving an update on the management of COVID-19 pandemic in state at the Lagos House, Marina, emphasizing that the decision was informed by the decrease in the positivity rate of pandemic in the state in the past two weeks.

“Dear Lagosians, having carefully reviewed the current scenario in Lagos State, we have taken some important decisions in line with the ongoing objective of calibrating an effective balance between the competing demands of safeguarding lives and enabling livelihoods.

“First, we are increasing the permissible capacity for public gatherings from 20 to 50 persons. This applies to a wide range of events, from AGMs to funerals. Lagosians should please continue to keep in mind that there is documented evidence that mass gatherings can increase the spread of infectious diseases, such as coronavirus. As such, all standard prevention and control measures must be strictly adhered to: physical distancing, mandatory temperature checks and use of masks in public places, regular disinfection of premises, and strong personal hygiene,” he said.

According to Governor Sanwo-Olu, places of worship in the state will be allowed to open from Friday, the 7th of August for the Muslim faithful and Sunday, the 9th of August for Christian faithful, saying only at 50 per cent of the centres’ capacity would be allowed, adding:  “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.”

The governor reiterated that places of worship were only permitted to have their regular once-a-week services on the designated days, warning that churches and mosques were not permitted to have other services or fellowships outside of their main weekly services.

He added that places of worship were 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.

“In addition, the following conditions must be met and fulfilled by all Religious Centres and Places of Worship that are planning to reopen: Only regular services/gatherings are permitted to hold. Night vigils and other non-regular programmes remain prohibited until further notice. Attendees over the age of sixty-five (65) years are strongly discouraged from attending worship services; Consider holding services and gatherings in large, well-ventilated areas or outdoors, as circumstances and faith traditions allow,” the governor said.

“‘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. Appropriate screening equipment for COVID-19 symptoms such as a contactless temperature check must be available for entrants into the facility. It is mandatory to provide hand-washing facilities and sanitizers at the entry and exit point of the premises. National emergency response phone lines must be displayed prominently.

“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 the 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,” he added.

Speaking on school reopening, Governor Sanwo-Oluh said secondary schools in Lagos would reopen, as earlier communicated by the Ministry of Education, from August 3rd, for Exit Classes only – i.e. SS3 and Technical Studies TEC3 students only, noting that this would allow the students 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.

“This will 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,” the governor said.

The governor also said restaurants would now be permitted to open for in-dining services, from the 14th of August, on the proviso that they maintain a 50 per cent occupancy capacity, and had also obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety.

“Social Clubs and Recreational Centres will also now be allowed to open from the 14th of August 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,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The governor warned that clubs and centres that reopened without complying with these mandatory requirements would be shut down and dealt with according to the law.

“Note also that the closure of all Spas, Bars, Lounges, Night Clubs, Cinemas, Games Arcades remains in place. 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 to the letter. The relevant agencies will be carrying out spot checks and random inspections of businesses and facilities and defaulters will be sanctioned appropriately,” he said.

The governor, while expressing condolences to the families of those who had lost loved their ones in recent times to reckless and avoidable road accidents involving trailers and containers; as well as accidents on our waterways, vowing that the wheel of the law would take its course as those responsible for the senseless deaths would be brought to justice.


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