Places of worship in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital and most populous state, will reopen from August 7, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced Saturday.
“Places of worship in Lagos will now be opened from Friday, the 7th of August for our Muslim worshippers, and on Sunday, the 9th of August for our Christian worshippers.
“We will only allow 50 per cent of their maximum capacities, either at the church or at the mosque. Churches who have a Saturday worship day will also be allowed to hold worship,” he said.
“We must reiterate that places of worship have their regular once a week service at designated days. For the avoidance of doubt, there will be Friday worships for our Muslim followers and Sunday worships for our Christian followers.
Sanwo-Olu said government would monitor this for the next couple of weeks and gauge the level of compliance. He encouraged the worship centers to have multiple services on those days, warning that they must restrict the services to those designated days of worship.
“In addition, the following conditions must also be fully met by all our religious centers; regular gatherings are permitted to hold but vigils and other services should still be on hold for now.
“We recommend and seriously appeal to our senior citizens – if you are aged 65 and above, you are still strongly advised not to attend these places of worship. Please stay back at home.”
He also advised leaders of these places to consider holding services in open spaces and well-ventilated areas “as circumstances of faith and tradition permit”.
He said the leaders must adhere to the policy of wearing face masks throughout the duration of the services. They are also to ensure that regular cleaning and disinfection of the facilities are carried out to maintain a clean and hygiene environment before, during and after the services
“It is mandatory to provide hand washing facilities and hand sanitizers at the various worship places. Handshakes, hugs, high-fives are not permitted during gatherings and should be emphasiZed and displayed at the various places of worship,” he added.
Worship centers in the state were shut in March when Nigeria first imposed a lockdown on Lagos and Ogun States and the Federal Capital Territory, as part of measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic spread in the country.
They have remained closed since then, even though the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 approved the reopening of places of worship in the country in June.
Nigeria’s rate of coronavirus infection rose to 43,151 on Friday, with 879 deaths, according to figures released by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.