COVID-19: Kwara gives conditions for reopening of worship centres

Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

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The Kwara State Government on Wednesday said 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).

The State Deputy Governor who also doubles as Chairman of the Kwara State Technical Committee on COVID-19, Mr Kayode Alabi who disclosed these while addressing newsmen in Ilorin said the state is definitely not out of the woods as cases continue to rise especially because of violation of travel restrictions.

According to him, it is preferred that worship centres should remain shut until it is clear that the curve of transmission has been flattened

However, he said the position of the state government, is 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:

She also explained further that 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 while each worship centre shall make provisions for hand washing or hand sanitisers, and infrared thermometer

The Deputy Governor stressed that wearing of face masks shall be mandatory for all worshippers as there shall be no hand shaking or hugging among worshippers while children would remain restricted from worship centres and people above sixty five years or persons with underlying health conditions are urged to stay away from worship centres

The government also directed that Muslims should perform ablution from their own houses as ablution spots would not be allowed for now to avoid the spread of the virus with warning that Muslim women are to stay away from mosques, as suggested by the leadership of the Muslim community in the state.

Other decisions agreed upon is that each worship centre is to dedicate a few minutes before service or prayers to educate attendants about COVID-19 and its dangers, adequate ventilation is to be ensured at each worship centre and government’s RRT shall conduct random visit to worship centres to take samples and do temperature checks

Alabi also disclosed that government shall 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 while government demands full compliance with all protocols as failure to do so is a huge drain on public resources.

According to him, the leadership of religious communities have agreed that any worship centre that violates these provisions would be shut down and its leadership strictly held accountable.

The state government has meanwhile announced the discharge of seven of COVID-19 patients who have twice tested negative while all the remaining patients are stable and doing well.

Nnenna.O