Politics

Finally, Sanwo-Olu Orders Reopening Of Worship Centres August 7……Increases Public Gatherings To 50 Persons

By Benjamin Omoike

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Saturday ordered reopening of worship centres in the state with effect from August 7, stressing that positivity cases of COVID-19 pandemic has reduced in the state.

The State Government had shut worship centres in the state as part of its efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the state, being the epicentre of the pandemic in the country.

Giving a 17th update on the management of the pandemic in state at the Lagos House, Marina, Governor Sanwo-Olu emphasised that the decision was informed by the decrease in the positivity rate of COVID-19 management in the state in the past two weeks.

He said, “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.

‘’Places of Worship in Lagos State will be allowed to open from Friday the 7th of August for our Muslim worshippers, and Sunday the 9th of August for Christian worshippers, but only at 50 per cent of their capacity. 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 are only permitted to have their regular once-a-week services on the designated days, warning that churches and mosques are not permitted to have other services or fellowships outside of their main weekly services.

Sanwo-Olu added that 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.

‘’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 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.’’ 

He added 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. 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 on the walls and visible surfaces.

‘’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 organised and orderly manner.”

He added that restaurants will 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 have also obtained a Provisional Safety Compliance Certificate through the registration portal of the Lagos State Safety.

According to him, ‘’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 warned that clubs and centres that reopen without complying with these mandatory requirements will 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.

Regarding the schools, he said Secondary Schools in Lagos will 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.

‘’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, while expressing condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones in recent times to reckless and avoidable road accidents involving trailers and containers; as well as accidents on the waterways, said the wheel of the law will take its cause, as those responsible for the senseless deaths will be brought to justic

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